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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Thomas Rivers   6 July 1865

Nurseries, Sawbridgeworth, Herts, | Great Eastern Railway,

July 6/65

My dear Sir/

I have delayed thanking you for your kind present of “Movements & Habits of Climbing Plants.1

What patient research & watching! I am more than ever surprised at what you do & can do. I enclose a little sketch of a climbing French bean.2 My son3 had sown in his private garden a row of Haricot beans a variety received from France   this is not a climbing bean but in a good season puts forth very slender climbing shoots. He was much amused at what he said was instinct   one of the beans in the row put forth a climbing stem   this was in front of a plum tree nailed to the wall but which had many young shoots protruding from it all of a sudden— he had been looking into your book— he observed the bean incline itself to the N. E. at a sharp angle, & lay hold of the shoot to which it is now attached— the fact is interesting & curious & so I have thought it worthy of communicating to you. I again thank you

I am My Dr Sir | Yrs. very truly | Thos. Rivers

I have the peach Almond in fruit this season4


The reference is to ‘Climbing plants’ (see letter from Charles Kingsley, 14 June 1865, n. 1). It is likely that CD sent Rivers an author’s offprint (see Freeman 1977, pp. 116–17, for the publication history of the first edition of ‘Climbing plants’).
The sketch has not been found.
T. Francis Rivers.
Rivers refers to a variety of fruit tree that he grew as part of his investigation into the relationship between the peach and almond. CD’s interest in this relationship was first mentioned in a letter to Rivers in 1863 (Correspondence vol. 11, letter to Thomas Rivers, 11 January [1863]). Rivers sent CD a peach tree and an almond tree (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Thomas Rivers, 21 January 1863), and later provided him with fruits from which drawings of a series of peach and almond stones were made for Variation (see Variation 1: 337–8 for the illustrations and CD’s acknowledgment of Rivers’s help). In Variation, CD noted that Rivers cultivated a variety from France called the ‘Peach-almond’ (Variation 1: 338). CD concluded that the peach was probably a descendant of the almond (Variation 1: 339, 2: 218; see also letter from Thomas Rivers, 6 January [1865] and n. 7, for Rivers’s view of the relationship between the peach and the nectarine).


‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

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


Thanks CD for "Climbing plants" [see 4861].

Encloses sketch of a climbing French bean.

Tells of a row of non-climbing haricot beans that in good season put out slender climbing shoots.

He has the peach almond in fruit this season.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Rivers
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 164
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4866,” accessed on 27 November 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13