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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Cross   6 October [1876]1

Ridgemount | Bassett | Southampton [Leith Hill Place, Surrey.]

Oct. 6th

Dear Sir

Absence from home has prevented me from thanking you for your very kind note by return of post.— Your case is quite new to me & very extraordinary.2 I shd. very much like to hear some further particulars. Did the very same plants which you transplanted change their habit; or were they fresh young plants developed from the leaf-buds? How were the plants treated with respect to shade moisture & soil?

I shd. extremely like to examine a living plant, but I shall not return home until the 21st or 23d. of Oct.—3 If the plants were sent me by above address to Southampton they would have to travel home with me, for I shd. not have a proper microscope there for examining the hairs. If therefore they would last until the 21st–23d I shd prefer to receive them at Down, (by Railway) as at head of this letter & to be marked “to be forwarded by special messenger”.4

If they are likely to die I shd. be glad to see them at Southampton. I rather doubt whether it can have been the exclusion of insects which can have worked this remarkable change.— I once tried to rear plants without insect-food, but failed owing to a mere unfortunate accident; & I had intended to try again.—

With very sincere thanks, I remain | Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin

P.S I suppose that you feel sure that some other plant has not grown up in the place where Drosera grew: I once nearly fell into this trap & shd. have blundered dreadfully.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from George Cross, 4 October 1876.
Cross described changes in the leaves of the common sundew, Drosera rotundifolia (see letter from George Cross, 4 October 1876 and n. 3).
CD stayed at William Erasmus Darwin’s home in Southampton from 7 to 20 October; from 4 to 7 October he was at Leith Hill Place in Surrey, the home of his sister, Caroline Susan Wedgwood, and her family (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
The printed Down address at the head of the letter has been deleted.


CD is much interested in a change in Drosera reported by GC, but "rather doubts" exclusion of insects can have caused it; would like to see the plant and suggests sending it to Down.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Cross
Sent from
Leith Hill Place Bassett letterhead
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10633,” accessed on 6 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24