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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Thomas Rivers   29 March 1872

Bonks Hill, | Sawbridgeworth.

Mar 29/72

My Dear Sir/

I have much pleasure in finding you still full of experimental life & have sent you two vines for acceptance with my best wishes

One is a variety of Frontignan with green leaves this is to be the stock the other is a purple leaved sort the Chasselas Noir this is the scion.1 Pardon me for giving you some instruction— The stock should be shortened to 3 feet & placed in heat when its shoots are from one to two inches long it is ready to insert   The scion vine should be kept out of doors & as dormant as possible—in a northern aspect   without this precaution “bleeding”2 will take place

The best covering for the graft is a lump of tenacious clay the size of an elongated pullet’s egg & over this a lump of moss the size of a turkey’s egg or so should be bound with lint & this should be kept moist till the union has taken place. The scion vine should be shortened so as to have 2, 3 or 4 buds above the junctions   The operation is very simple yet as usual much work is required.

I am now an old man & am suffering from a late attack of influenza   75 is not an age to recuperate but I am still interested in culture & in experiments now carried on by my son3 for I am now an idle man   the seedling crossed fruits are of high interest but the thought will intrude “shall I see the end of these matters”? Still I am free from pain & infirmity & have the “mens sana & I am thankful for the prosperity I have long enjoyed

I am My Dear Sir | Yrs. ever truly | Thos. Rivers

In the Revue Horticule for this month is the figure of a plum-peach, Prunus Simonii with the flesh of a plum & a rough stone, peach-like   this is from China.4 We shall have the same hybrid here ere long   a seedling gage plum last spring had its young fruit covered with down   it was from blossoms crossed by my son with the pollen of the peach thus dropped off

I have forgotten to add that the purple colour is only brought out by exposure to the open air in August or September

The vines should be with you to morrow

CD annotations

2.1 Frontignan] underl pencil
2.2 Chasselas Noir] underl pencil


Frontignan and Chasselas noir are grapevine varieties now more commonly known as Muscat blanc à petits grains and Dolcetto, respectively.
Bleeding is the extravasation of sap, such as occurs in vines injured in the spring, during leaf expansion (Jackson 1900).
Thomas Francis Rivers. Thomas Rivers (senior) was cited frequently in Variation, especially on the characteristics of graft hybrids. For CD’s earlier correspondence with Rivers on graft hybrids, see Correspondence vols. 11 and 14.
Rivers refers to an article in Revue horticole 44 (1872): 111–12 on Prunus simonii, the apricot-plum.


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

Jackson, Benjamin Daydon. 1900. A glossary of botanic terms: with their description and accent. London: Duckworth & Co. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippencott Company.

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


Sends two vines for CD’s experiments, with instructions for grafting.

Mentions a hybrid plum–peach.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Rivers
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 173
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8259,” accessed on 9 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20