skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Andrew Murray   15 February 1864

Royal Horticultural Society. | South Kensington. W.

Feby. 15 1864

My dear Sir

I have received the sanction of the Council to making Hybridization a specialty in our “Proceedings”,—and I turn to you for Encouragement as the man most interested in it in all Britain1

My idea is to have a column devoted to that subject always standing—in which the records of the success & failure of Hybridisers may constantly be recorded— To make in fact a quarry or storehouse of facts out of which you & other thinkers may come & pick principles hereafter.—

Every hybridiser keeps a note-Book— Now I think if the dry notes in these were published with the results, much useful matter must appear. I should not think of publishing crosses between varieties of the same species—but almost every thing above that—& even something of that occasionally—where unusual success or failure attended particular circumstances—

Let me hear whether you approve of the idea—& if you do, write me a little note of Encouragement such as I might publish to induce others to follow & at times perhaps perhaps you will lend me a fact or two—2

Believe me to be | Yours very sincerely | Andw. Murray.


Murray refers to the Proceedings of the Royal Horticultural Society; he was the assistant secretary of the Royal Horticultural Society (DNB). For CD’s interest in hybridism, see Origin 3d ed., pp. 267–301. See also Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix VI. Since the publication of Origin and Murray’s review of it (Murray 1860), he and CD had discussed hybridism and variation in correspondence (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 8, letter to Andrew Murray, 5 May [1860]).
CD’s reply has not been found; however, a column on hybridisation appeared in the April 1864 issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Horticultural Society, pp. 83–4, recording the Horticultural Society’s consultation with CD and others who approved of the effort to provide information on hybridisation regularly (ibid., p. 83): Mr. Darwin impresses especially the importance of zealous devotion to the subject, even to the extent of counting the seeds of the hybrids and of the parent plants. He suggests one or two points on which he thinks information is desired, viz., the character of the successive generations of any semi-fertile hybrid when cultivated, and seed preserved in situations where neither parent specific form exists, and adds, ‘But of all subjects we are by far most ignorant of the relative degrees of fertility of varieties of the same species one with another, and with the parent species.[’] The column did not appear again in 1864 or 1865. Murray’s resignation as assistant secretary was announced at the annual general meeting of the Society on 24 January 1865 (see Proceedings of the Royal Horticultural Society 5 (1865): 1, and letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 March 1867 (Calendar no. 5449)).


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

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

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.

Origin 3d ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 3d edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1861.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


A regular column is to appear in the Proceedings of the Royal Horticultural Society on successful and failed interspecific crosses.

Letter details

Letter no.
Andrew Dickson (Andrew) Murray
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
R. Hortic. Soc.
Source of text
DAR 171: 326
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4407,” accessed on 22 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12