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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Isaac Anderson-Henry   17 April 1863

Hay Lodge, | Trinity, | Edinburgh.

April 17/63

My dear Sir

Your last Letter of 2d February informed me, what I was truly sorry to learn, of your being obliged to be absent for a time from ill health.1 I hope you are now restored & in the midst of your most interesting pursuits, advancing science by fresh discoveries & covering yourself with still brighter laurels. I too am, in my humble sphere, also at work. Today I have, as you suggested tried the experiment on 3 different plants of Primula polyanthus to test the result you accomplished by long and short anthers.2 And, I think, when I come to report upon it, you will allow I have done it ample justice.3 I have had the plants under glass for some 3 weeks.

I have also been testing Mr Cunninghams experiment by which the Bryanthus erectus was said to be produced—and also the fertility of that plant touched by the pollen of the alleged parents respectively.4 I have the Pods of M. Cærulea (Phyllodoce Cærulea) offering to swell with the pollen of the Rhodothamnus Chaemæcistus;—& the M. empetriformis with the same pollen seems in a hopeful way— Those crosses inverted on the Rhodothamnus also bid fair   But of all this again, & other things, I have on hand

Meantime I hasten to say that, in a Letter I have from Dr Jameson dated 7 March he says;—“I had the pleasure of receiving a Letter from Mr Darwin who has been for some time pursuing a course of investigation on the staminal organs of the Melastomaceæ; & is desirous of obtaining facts relative the fertilisation of the fruit. I shall attend particularly to that matter and communicate the result by an early opportunity”5

He further informs me that he had been asked by the President (of the Equator) to publish a Flora of those Regions, which he regrets his inability to accomplish for various reasons.—6 Such a work by one so able to do it justice would have been a great gain to Botanical Science. It is a pity he cannot undertake it

My dear Sir would you forgive me asking, if you have one to spare, a Carte of yourself.— Next to the pleasure of seeing the original will be that of viewing the likeness of one I honour & admire so much. These things do little justice to those like me past the meridian of life— But I presume yours will show the features of a younger man than the enclosed, which I humbly take the liberty of offering for your acceptance.7 Believe with best wishes | most faithfully yours | Is. anderson Henry

Charles Darwin Esq. F.R.S. | &c &c

CD annotations

End of letter: ‘Bates Book’8 pencil


No letter from CD to Anderson-Henry suggesting experiments with Primula has been found. However, Anderson-Henry had previously mentioned his intention to experiment with Linum in regard to dimorphism (see letter from Isaac Anderson-Henry, 17 January 1863), and CD encouraged this in his letter to Anderson-Henry of 20 January [1863]. CD had sent Anderson-Henry a copy of his paper ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula in 1862 (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix III).
See letter from Isaac Anderson-Henry, 26–7 January 1863 and n. 14. The cross that supposedly resulted in Bryanthus erectus was reported to have been achieved by James Cunningham, a Scottish nurseryman, by crossing Phyllodoce (Menziesia) caerulea with Rhodothamnus chamaecistus (Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 1 November 1851, p. 695).
William Jameson was the director of the Mint in Quito, Ecuador, and professor of botany and chemistry at the University of Quito; he had made extensive tours of South America collecting plants (DNB). CD was interested in botanical collectors who could make observations of the Melastomataceae (see letter to Hugh Falconer, 5 [and 6] January [1863] and n. 22). Anderson-Henry provided CD with Jameson’s address (see letter from Isaac Anderson-Henry, 26–7 January 1863), but no correspondence with Jameson has been found.
Jameson published a two-volume work on the flora of Ecuador two years later (Jameson 1865). Gabriel García Moreno was professor of chemistry at the University of Quito, and president of Ecuador (EB). ‘Ecuador’ is the Spanish word for equator.
The photograph of Anderson-Henry has not been found.
In his reply to Anderson-Henry of 20 April 1863 (now missing), CD apparently recommended that he read Henry Walter Bates’s The naturalist on the river Amazons (Bates 1863; see letter from Isaac Anderson-Henry, 24 April 1863).


Bates, Henry Walter. 1863. The naturalist on the River Amazons. A record of adventures, habits of animals, sketches of Brazilian and Indian life, and aspects of nature under the equator, during eleven years of travel. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

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

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

Jameson, William. 1865. Synopsis plantarum æquatoriensium, exhibens plantas praecipue in regione temperata et frigida crescentes, secundum systematam naturalem descriptas viribus medicatis et usibus oeconomicis plurimarum adjectis. 3 vols. Quito, Ecuador: typis J. P. Sanz.


Has done Primula polyanthus experiment CD suggested.

Letter details

Letter no.
Isaac Anderson/Isaac Anderson Henry
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 159: 64
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4105,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11