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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Alphonse de Candolle   2 November [1872]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Nov. 2d

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for your great kindness in having sent me your “Histoire des Sciences &c”.2 From what I see of the contents I look forward with real eagerness to read it; but I shall not be able to begin for a week or two. I have just published a small book on Expression, which I did not suppose you would care to see; but from the nature of your recent studies, parts may possibly interest you, so I have told my Publisher to send you a copy.3

My health keeps very weak & I dread the exertion of grappling with the fearful subject of variation; so I am now employed in working up some observations in Botanical physiology made twelve years ago, which I intend publishing with some other new matter & some of my old papers on Climbing Plants, Dimorphism &c in a volume.—4

With cordial thanks & sincere respect, Pray | believe me | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the reference to Expression, which was published in November 1872 (Freeman 1977).
CD refers to A. de Candolle 1873; there is an annotated copy in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 153).
Candolle’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Expression (see Correspondence vol. 20, Appendix V). CD’s publisher was John Murray.
In the introduction to Variation, CD had written that he planned future works on variation in nature and on the difficulties opposed to the theory of natural selection. His next book, after Descent and Expression, was Insectivorous plants. CD had begun work on the insectivorous genera Drosera and Dionaea in 1860 (see Correspondence vol. 8). CD’s papers ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula, ‘Two forms in species of Linum, ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria, ‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’, and ‘Specific difference in Primula, were republished with corrections in Forms of flowers. A second edition of Climbing plants was published in 1875.


Candolle, Alphonse de. 1873. Histoire des sciences et des savants depuis deux siècles: suivie d’autres études sur des sujets scientifiques en particulier sur la sélection dans l’espèce humaine. Geneva: H. Georg.

Climbing plants: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green; Williams & Norgate. 1865.

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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

‘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.]

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’: On the character and hybrid-like nature of the offspring from the illegitimate unions of dimorphic and trimorphic plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 20 February 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 10 (1869): 393–437.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

‘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.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]

‘Two forms in species of Linum’: On the existence of two forms, and on their reciprocal sexual relation, in several species of the genus Linum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 5 February 1863.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 7 (1864): 69–83. [Collected papers 2: 93–105.]

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


Thanks for AdeC’s Histoire des sciences [1873].

Sends a copy of Expression.

His health keeps him weak; he dreads grappling with the fearful subject of variation [in nature]

so he is working up some observations in botanical physiology to publish with his old papers on climbing plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alphonse de Candolle
Sent from
Source of text
Archives de la famille de Candolle (private collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8593,” accessed on 27 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20