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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Ogle   25 September 1875

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Sep 25/75

My dear Dr Ogle

Many thanks for yr letter, which like every one that I have ever received from you, has interested me much. From Galton’s case & the inheritance of the bicuspid tooth I can hardly avoid the suspicion that some progenitor of yours had the peculiarities in question.1

If ever I bring out a new edit of my book on Expression your letter which I will preserve will be very usful to me; & I have a bundle of notes sent to me by various persons on the subject of signs of assent.2

I had no idea that Aristotle had noticed bees visiting flowers of the same kind.3 I have accepted this general belief without much investigation; but I have noticed bees succesively visiting varieties of the same plant with very different coloured flowers.4 I remember also some detailed statements on this subject in a very old paper I think in Phil: Trans: but I cannot at present give you the reference.5 As bees evidently desire to save time, as shown by their cutting holes, I have imagined that they could suck the flowers of the same species more quickly than other flowers by knowing exactly how far to exsert their proboscis &c.6 I am very glad to see that you keep up yr interest in these subjects. It pleases me also much that my book on Insectivorous Plants has interested you.

With many thanks | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


See letter from William Ogle, [23–4 September 1875]. In a missing part of this letter, Ogle had revealed that the girl twins with crooked fingers that he had mentioned to CD (see Variation 2: 253) were his sisters, and that a child of one of them had a misplaced bicuspid tooth (letter to Francis Galton, 25 September 1875). Francis Galton had described a similar case, wondering whether they were in fact the same twins (letter from Francis Galton, 22 September 1875). Ogle’s twin sisters were Caroline Johnson, who had six children, and Amelia Mozely, who died in 1872 and was childless.
Apart from a brief postscript, the part of Ogle’s letter dealing with signs of assent is missing. Expression 2d ed. does not mention any new information from Ogle on this subject.
In Cross and self fertilisation, p. 416, CD cited a 1750 paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, on the subject of bees visiting one species of flower for as long as possible (Dobbs 1750; although CD said the paper was published in 1736).
CD repeated this hypothesis in Cross and self fertilisation, p. 419.


Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Dobbs, Arthur. 1750. A letter from Arthur Dobbs Esq; to Charles Stanhope Esq; F.R.S. concerning bees, and their method of gathering wax and honey. [Read 8 November 1750.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 46 (1749–50): 536–49.

Expression 2d ed.: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. Edited by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1890.

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


From Galton’s "twin study" he suspects that some progenitor of WO’s had the peculiarities in question.

Has collected cases of signs of assent for a revised edition of Expression.

Suggests bees visit same species because they know how far to insert proboscis and thus save time.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Ogle
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.5: 15 (EH 88205913)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10171,” accessed on 27 October 2021,

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