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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Richard Trevor Clarke   14 [April 1868]1

Welton Place | Near Daventry

Tuesday 14

My dear Mr Darwin

I have at last badgered our Horticultural into a little self esteem and to the extent of establishing a working scientific committee.2 The movement is a real one and all are entering into it heartily.

We have Hooker & Co from Kew and some other very good men on, and it would greatly gratify me personally as well as our people to see your name at least on our list.3 We should not desire your attendance but your occasional correspondence would be most valuable as we intend if possible to work a little in the line in which you, and I may add I myself, so much delight.

I was much pleased at your kindly “putting me into” your beautiful book.4 I must have a talk to you some day (on paper) about some points in it—

Can you scratch me up two or three of your Kentish Orchises. I am growing British Orchids with considerable success. I have at present only the Fly & Bee with Maculata Mascula Butterfly, Twayblade common Helleborine and Spiranthes.5 They grow with me just as easy as any other plant, in pots, in the Greenhouse during the growing period, and what is curious they thrive in the Moist Stove!6

I send you an offering of a pair of Hybridizing pincers of my own making

Very sincerely yours | R. Trevor Clarke


The month and year are established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from M. T. Masters, 4 April 1868.
For more on the establishment of the scientific committee of the Royal Horticultural Society, see the letter from M. T. Masters, 4 April 1868.
Clarke refers to Joseph Dalton Hooker. For other members of the committee and CD’s participation, see the letter from M. T. Masters, 4 April 1868 and nn. 2–4.
CD had referred to Clarke’s work on hybrid strawberries in Variation 1: 352.
Clarke refers to the fly ophrys and bee ophrys (Ophrys muscifera and O. apifera), the spotted orchis and early purple orchis (Orchis maculata and O. mascula), the twayblade (Listera ovata), the common helleborine (Epipactis helleborine), and probably Spiranthes autumnalis (now S. spiralis, ladies’ tresses).
Moist stove: a hothouse heated with a moist heat (OED).


OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

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


Solicits CD’s support for the newly set up Royal Horticultural Society’s Scientific Committee.

Very pleased that he was put into CD’s book [Variation 1: 352].

Sends "hybridising pincers" of his own making.

Letter details

Letter no.
Richard Trevor Clarke
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 161: 168
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6118,” accessed on 18 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16