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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Ogle   7 July [1869]1

Caerdeon, Barmouth | N. Wales

July 7th

My dear Sir

You must let me write half-a-dozen words to say how much I admire your paper on Salvia.2 It seems to me excellently worked out, & contains much that is new. I shd. have committed a heavy sin, if I had been the means of stopping its publication.—3

I suspect that that the Salvia with shorter pistil will prove merely an arrested form, for, as far as my experience goes, it is not likely that two such wonderful means, as complex mechanical contrivances & Dimorphism, shd have been co-used for the same end.—4

Judging from what I know occurs with some plants, for instance Verbascum, I apprehend that the Malvaceæ, which do not secrete nectar, are visited by pollen-collecting Bees.—5

I congratulate you on publishing so striking a paper & remain, My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin

I am not certain of your private address, & have not here any address-book.—6


The year is established by the reference to Ogle’s paper on Salvia (see n. 2, below).
Ogle’s paper ‘The fertilisation of Salvia and some other flowers’ appeared in the 1 July 1869 issue of Popular Science Review (Ogle 1869). CD’s annotated copy of the paper is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
CD had lent Ogle his copy of a paper on Salvia by Friedrich Hildebrand (Hildebrand 1866). When Ogle returned the paper he mentioned that he had been unaware that the main facts on the mechanism of fertilisation in the species had already been described, but concluded that he might still add some of his own observations (see Correspondence vol. 16, letter from William Ogle, 2 September 1868).
Ogle had observed two forms of Salvia patens, one with a shorter style (see Ogle 1869, p. 269). He noted the the longer styled blossoms were far more numerous and speculated that the second form was an accidental deformity.
Ogle had suggested that self-fertilisation was easily accomplished in mallows (Malvaceae) that did not have nectaries, and suggested a causal connection between the two facts (Ogle 1869, pp. 270–1). In ‘Specific difference in Primula, p. 453, CD had observed that although the flowers of Verbascum did not have nectaries, they were frequently visited by pollen-eating bees
CD addressed the letter to Ogle at ‘St. George’s Hospital, Hyde Park Corner, London’.


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

Ogle, William. 1869. The fertilisation of Salvia and of some other flowers. Popular Science Review 8: 261–73.

‘Specific difference in Primula’: On the specific difference between Primula veris, Brit. Fl. (var. officinalis of Linn.), P. vulgaris, Brit. Fl. (var. acaulis, Linn.), and P. elatior, Jacq.; and on the hybrid nature of the common oxlip. With supplementary remarks on naturally produced hybrids in the genus Verbascum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 19 March 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 10 (1869): 437–54.


Comments on WO’s paper on Salvia [Pop. Sci. Rev. 8 (1869): 261–73], which he admires.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Ogle
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 261.5: 3 (EH 88205901)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6818,” accessed on 27 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17