skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. V. Carus   2 August [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

August. 2d

My dear Sir

I am very very sorry, but I am engaged to visit a relation, & shall start very early on Tuesday morning on my journey.2 It will seem absurd & fanciful to you, but it is the simple truth that if I were to excite myself by talking or doing anything on Monday, I could not travel on Tuesday. Nor could I well put off my visit, as my relations have arranged to receive us on that day. I am extremely sorry, for I shd. have been very glad to have seen you & your daughter here.3 I daresay you will come to England again before very long, & then I hope fortune will be more favourable.—

I have been working very hard lately on the physiological properties of Drosera & Dionæa, & my next little book will be on these plants, with the republication of my paper on Climbing Plants, & not as I had intended on the evil effects of Interbreeding.4

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. V. Carus, [before 8 May 1873].
CD visited Thomas Henry and Katherine Euphemia Farrer from 5 to 9 August 1873 and then visited William Erasmus Darwin from 9 to 21 August (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). In 1873, 5 August fell on Tuesday.
It is not known which of Carus’s three daughters was with him. Carus had spent the summer in Edinburgh giving lectures on natural history (see letter from J. V. Carus, [before 8 May 1873] and nn. 3 and 5).
See letter to J. V. Carus, 8 May [1873]. CD had resumed his work on Drosera, an insectivorous plant, in August 1872 but stopped in January 1873 to prepare a new edition of Climbing plants; between February and June 1873 he worked on the ‘evil effects of intercrossing’ (self-fertilisation), but returned again to work on Drosera from mid-June (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II); see also Correspondence vol. 20, Appendix II). Insectivorous plants and Climbing plants 2d ed. were published in 1875. Cross and self fertilisation was published in 1876. Drosera is the genus of sundews; Dionaea is a monospecific genus whose only species is D. muscipula, the Venus fly trap.


Climbing plants 2d ed.: The movements and habits of climbing plants. 2d edition. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

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–.

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

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


Regrets he cannot receive JVC at Down on Monday as he would then be too unwell to travel on Tuesday, when he must leave for a visit [to Abinger Hall, according to the Journal].

Has been working hard on Drosera and Dionaea. His next book will be on these plants and not, as he had intended, "On evil effects of Inter breeding".

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8996,” accessed on 17 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21