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Darwin Correspondence Project

From M. T. Masters   14 April 1863

Rye Lane | Peckham. SE

April 14. 1863

My dear Sir

Many thanks for the specimens you were kind enough to forward to me1   They singularly well illustrate the truth of the oft made remark that what is abnormal in one genus is the rule in another and have much significance when considered in relation to your views of inheritance and descent2   I notice that the more perfectly developed flowers are placed toward the upper part of the cluster

The peculiar arrangement of the stamens in this family is exceedingly curious and not well-understood I think—3

Again thanking you for your kindness believe me dear Sir | Faithfully Yrs. | Maxwell. T. Masters.

Chas. Darwin Esq


See letters to M. T. Masters, 6 April [1863] and [8–13 April 1863].
CD discussed Corydalis in Variation 2: 58–9, as part of his chapter on reversion (ibid., pp. 28–61). See also letter to M. T. Masters, 6 April [1863] and n. 3.
In the Fumariaceae the six stamens are in two sets of three, on opposite sides of the flower, and are covered by the fused inner pair of petals. The three stamens in each set are often fused together at the base, with only the middle stamen having a complete anther (Ernst 1962).


Ernst, Wallace R. 1962. The genera of Papaveraceae and Fumariaceae in the southeastern United States. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 43: 315–43.

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


Thanks CD for specimens which show that an abnormality in one genus is normal in another, which bears on CD’s views on descent.

Letter details

Letter no.
Maxwell Tylden Masters
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 171: 69
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4092,” accessed on 28 February 2021,

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