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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. J. Romanes   12 July [1875]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

July 12th

My dear Mr Romanes

I am correcting a 2d Edit. of Var. under Dom: & find that I must do it pretty fully.2 Therefore I give a short abstract of potato graft-hybrids, & I want to know whether I did not send you a reference about Beet.3 Did you look to this, & can you tell me anything about it?

I hope with all my heart that you are getting on pretty well with your experiments: I have been led to think a good deal on subject & am convinced of its high importance, though it will take years of hammering before physiologists will admit that the sexual organs only collect the generative elements.4

The Edit. will be published in November & then you will see all that I have collected, but I believe that you saw all the more important cases.—5 The case of vine in Gard. Chronicle, which I sent you, I think may only be a bud-variation, not due to grafting.—6

I have heard indirectly of your splendid success with nerves of Medusæ.—7 We have been at Abinger Hall for a month for rest which I much required, & I saw there the cut-leaved vine, which seems splendid for graft-hybridisation.8

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to Variation 2d ed. (see n. 2, below).
CD began work on Variation 2d ed. on 6 July 1875 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
CD expanded his discussion of hybrid potatoes in Variation 2d ed., including numerous cases of intermediate varieties produced by grafting tubers or by inserting eyes of one variety into another (Variation 2d ed. 1: 420–4). On a case of grafted beetroots, see Correspondence vol. 22, letter to G. J. Romanes, 16 December 1874 and n. 9.
Romanes had been bisecting buds and tubers to make graft hybrids with the aim of testing CD’s theory of pangenesis (see letter from G. J. Romanes, 14 January 1875 and n. 2). CD briefly discussed the implications of graft-hybrid potatoes for pangenesis in Variation 2d ed. 2: 360.
Variation 2d ed. was published in the second half of February 1876 (Publishers’ circular 1876), although it carried an 1875 publication date.
For the description of the grafted vine in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, see the letter from G. J. Romanes, 14 January 1875 and n. 3.
Romanes’s work on the nervous system of Medusae was eventually published in G. J. Romanes 1876 and 1876–7.
CD stayed at Abinger Hall, Surrey, the home of Thomas Henry Farrer, from 3 June to 6 July 1875 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). CD had arranged for specimens of a vine raised in Farrer’s garden to be sent to Romanes (see letter to G. J. Romanes, 7 April [1875]).


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

Romanes, George John. 1876. The physiology of the nervous system of medusae. [Read 28 April 1876.] Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain 8 (1875–8): 166–77.

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


Discusses revisions for Variation, 2d ed.

Discusses experiments involving graft-hybrids.

Alludes to Pangenesis.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George John Romanes
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.471)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10059,” accessed on 27 July 2021,

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