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Darwin Correspondence Project

To the Linnean Society   9 December [1867]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Dec 9.

My dear Sir

I have read the paper with care, & it seems to me better than I expected, though badly arranged. As far as I can judge the whole of the first part, with the exception of a few introductory sentences, (which I have struck out) must be published. No one I think without specimens cd make a good abstract. With respect to the latter part of the paper you will be a much better judge than I: at p. 11., where I have put a pencil cross, the subject changes, & again at p. 12.; whether either of these discussions ought to be retained, I really cannot decide.2

I have recd other accounts, from the same author & others, of the curious imitation of plants in S. Africa.3

The climbing of the convolvulus is also a curious point with reference to the same plant when grown in Ireland; but I must beg you to decide whether these extraneous passages ought to remain.4

With respect to the plates, it is obvious that all cannot & do not deserve to be engraved; I wd suggest fig 6, 7, 2 & 3 in Pl. 1. to be engraved on the same block & inserted at p. 7 of the M.S.5

I enclose a title for the wood block in case you approve of my suggestion.

My dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


All from Plate I for a woodcut Fig 1. (fig 6 of m.s.) Fig 3. (Fig 2. of m.s.) – 2. (Fig 7. of m.s.) – 4. (Fig 3 of m.s.) (Beneath the 4 cuts insert in small type) Fig. 1. Under surface of Labellum of Bonatea Darwinii (magnified) Fig. 2. Pollinium of do in natural position (magnified) Fig 3 Under surface of Labellum of Bonatea species (from Mr. Trimen) Fig 4. Pollinium of do (from do.)6


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. P. M. Weale, 9 December [1867].
The reference is to a manuscript of Weale 1867, a paper on Bonatea that was read at the Linnean Society on 7 March 1867 but not published until 1869. See letter from J. P. M. Weale, 9 January 1867, and letter to the Linnean Society, 22 February [1867]. The manuscript, with CD’s pencil markings, is in the Linnean Society archives (SP1249). CD crossed through in pencil three sentences from the first part of Weale’s manuscript concerning the difficulty he had in acquiring specimens of the plant. He put a pencil cross on page 11 of the manuscript at the head of a paragraph where Weale suggested that species in South Africa were related more as subspecies than as ‘distinctive specific forms’, and another on page 12, where Weale discussed Ipomoea argyraeoides. Both passages were omitted from the version published in the Journal of the Linnean Society.
The flower of Bonatea darwinii was described as resembling a white butterfly in Weale 1867, p. 470.
In the manuscript of Weale 1867 (see n. 2, above), Weale included a discussion of Ipomoea argyraeoides, which he said showed in his observation no tendency to climb, even though growing in comparatively moist situations. He wrote that he had found one plant, growing in the shelter of the Bedford mountain range, that showed a slight tendency to twine in its upper branches. In ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 24–5, CD had suggested that Ipomoea argyraeoides was one of a number of plants that rarely showed a tendency to climb in South Africa, but that twined when grown in Ireland, in moister conditions. See also Correspondence vol. 14, letters from W. H. Harvey, 8 November [1864] and 10 November 1864. Weale’s discussion was omitted from the version of the paper published in the Journal of the Linnean Society.
CD’s captions were used in the published paper: Weale had supplied several more diagrams.


‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

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

Weale, James Philip Mansel. 1867. Notes on the structure and fertilization of the genus Bonatea, with a special description of a species found at Bedford, South Africa. [Read 7 March 1867.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 10 (1869): 470–6.


Gives his comments on the merits of a paper on South African botany [by J. P. M. Weale, "Notes on Bonatea", J. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Bot.) 10 (1869): 470–6].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Linnean Society
Sent from
Source of text
Linnean Society of London, SP1249, 1253
Physical description
3pp encl 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5715,” accessed on 18 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15