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Letter 3965

Rivers, Thomas to Darwin, C. R.

[3 Feb 1863]

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    His observations of "selection" in growth of seedling trees.


You should live near a large nursery & your mind would find abundance of food.

when I first read the ``Origin'' I was amused at what I had observed with regard to ``selection''. A patch of seedling trees if not transplanted seems to illustrate this (but perhaps I am taking a wrong view)   the first year they are all equal   in two or three years several will have pushed up—not confined to the outside of the patch which is easily accounted for by their finding more food— at the end of five or six years one or two or three will have smothered nearly all their brethren & then one alone will often be left. I have observed in what we call ``pans'' (flat pots of seedling) of pines which have stood a few years in one place forgotten the first year all equal the second & third a few more adventurous have made roots through the holes at the bottom & at last one gigantic fellow spreads over all & the underlings die.

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    f1 3965.f1
    CD sent Rivers a copy of Origin in January 1863 to thank him for his assistance with the chapter on bud-variation for Variation (see letter to Thomas Rivers, 15 January [1863]). Rivers had first read Origin several years earlier (see letter from Thomas Rivers, 21 January 1863).
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    f2 3965.f2
    Some indication of the contents of the missing portion of the letter is given by the letter to Rivers of [14 February 1863], in which CD thanked him for `capital' information concerning inheritance in an ash tree and a species of thorn. CD made extensive use of this information in Variation 2: 18--19.
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