RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1878. Prefatory letter. In Kerner, A., Flowers and their unbidden guests. With a prefatory letter by Charles Darwin, M.A., F.R.S. The translation revised and edited by W. Ogle, M.A., M.D. London: C. Kegan Paul.

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned, OCRed, corrected and edited by John van Wyhe 2002-8, textual corrections by Sue Asscher 3.2007. RN2

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MY DEAR DR. OGLE,1—I am extremely glad to hear that you have undertaken to edit Kerner's work on Flowers and their Unbidden Guests;2 for it opens out a highly original and curious field of research. It is possible that some of Kerner's generalisations may hereafter require to be slightly modified; but I feel sure that every remark which he has made well deserves careful consideration. The beauty and poetry of flowers will not be at all lessened to the general observer, by his being led through Kerner's investigation to notice various small, and apparently quite unimportant, details of structure,—such as the presence of differently directed hairs, viscid glands, etc., which prevent the access of certain insects, and not of others. He will, I believe, come to the conclusion that flowers are not only delightful from their beauty and fragrance,

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but display most wonderful adaptations for various purposes. I cordially wish that your translation may find many readers, not so much for your sake as for theirs.

Believe me very faithfully yours,


August 17, 1878.

1 William Ogle (1827-1912), physician, naturalist and superintendent of Statistics to the Registrar-General.

2 Anton Kerner von Marilaun (1831-1898), German botanist. Kerner 1876. See Darwin's annotated copy in CUL-DAR139.15.1.

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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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