RECORD: Farrer, T. H. [c.1885]. Recollections and letters of Darwin, 1868-1874. LINSOC-MS.299. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online, http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

REVISION HISTORY: Photographed and transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 9.2022. RN1

NOTE: Reproduced with the permission of the Linnean Society of London and William Huxley Darwin. With thanks to Axel Gelfert and Kelvin Wee Chee Yee for assistance.

Introduction

Thomas Henry Farrer (later Baron) (1819-1899) was a statistician, barrister and civil servant, serving as secretary of the marine department, Board of Trade, from 1850 and became permanent secretary of the Board of Trade from 1867-1886. In 1854 he married Frances Erskine, Frances Mackintosh Wedgwood's niece. Darwin and Farrer apparently met in the 1850s. The dinner party described in the recollection below seems to be the one hosted by Hensleigh and Frances Mackintosh Wedgwood on 19 February 1858. Emma Darwin recorded in her diary that day "dinner party Buckle". CUL-DAR242%5B.22%5D

The Hookers also attended. A 23 February letter from Darwin to Hooker mentions the historian Henry Buckle and corresponds well with Farrer's recollection from almost thrity years later: "I was not much struck with the great Buckle & I admired the way you stuck up about deduction & induction.— I heard that the other day that he met Ld. Lansdowne for first time in party, & fairly silenced the old man with his harangues!" (Correspondence vol. 7)

In 1873 Farrer married as his second wife Katherine Euphemia 'Effie' Wedgwood (1839-1931). She was Darwin's first cousin once removed, i.e. the daughter of his wife Emma's brother Hensleigh Wedgwood (1803-1891). Farrer became a great admirer of Darwin's scientific abilities. The Darwins sometimes stayed with the Farrers at their home, Abinger Hall, west of Dorking, Surrey from 1873-1880, one of the few places Darwin felt comfortable and at ease. The ruins of a Roman villa were found on the estate in 1877 and were used in the research for Darwin's book Earthworms. In 1880 Darwin's son Horace married Farrer's daughter from his first marriage, Emma Cecilia 'Ida' (1854-1846). Farrer had at first not approved of the match but Darwin eventually managed to persuade him.

After Darwin's death, his son Francis collected letters in preparation for Life and letters (1887). Farrer provided twenty-two letters together with these recollections. (copies in CUL-DAR144.45-86) Some extracts from them were published in Life and letters and More Letters. The Darwin letters interleaved between Farrer's recollections are not transcribed here as they are already in the Correspondence.


1

[scroll up to see the introduction]

(A) ()

My first recollections of Mr Darwin was are about the years 1850-1860 when I used to meet him occasionally at the houses of his brother Erasmus, and at Mr Hensleigh Wedgwood. One evening at Mr Wedgwoods in Cumberland Terrace Regents Park I remember particularly. It was at the time when the "Origin of Species" was much in men's mouths and Mr Buckle had, I believe, by his own desire been asked to meet Mr Darwin. There was a pleasure pleasant party, Dr Forbes and others. But Mr Buckle somewhat overshadowed stunned us at dinner with his overwhelming and somewhat mechanical outpour of facts & stories, and I remember how pleasant and appreciative conversation grew up, like a tender plant, when he made an early move to the drawing room. When we got upstairs, Mr Buckle

2

had hold of Mr Darwin, dragged him into a corner and began discussing the deepest of problems with him. Meanwhile my wife, Mrs Wedgwoods niece, & almost a child of the house, began, as was her wont then, to sing, and, as mine was always respected in that circle, most people were silent. Mr Darwin very soon contrived to free himself from Mr Buckle and sat down by the piano to listen. Whereupon Mr Buckle careless of music & ignorant of the ways of the house and of all the relationships between the hostess Mr Darwin & the singer, walked up to Mrs Wedgwood and said "Mrs Wedgwood, what a very inferior man Charles Darwin is to his book"!

I think that at that time Mr Darwin cared more for music then he did in later years. When we went to stay with him at Down I remember his great delight in having my first wife sig sing

3

Scotch & German ballads. Once I remember he used constantly specially to ask for "Summer's a pleasant time". In later years when I was constantly often at Down & with my second wife, his niece, at Down quite as good a singer, he used to come in and listen, for that too was a house in which music was respected ─ but I never thought that he felt a any deep interest in it. He used to say that poetry no longer interested him, and I believe that the subjects in which he did so much occupied his interest and attention, I will not say exclusively, for on all matters connected with social and political life he was full of interest but to the exclusion of many things and subjects. It was an illustration of the general truth, that all men & minds ─ Even the greatest, have their limitations. It is idle to expect any man to be everything;

[4]

and if a man is very deep on any one subject, it is idle to hope he is the less likely to be wide on all others.

In 1868 I have been amusing amused myself by looking at English Orchids and with the help of his book published in 1862, and well remember the effect which that book had on me. seeing in one small department of Nature I had previously been trying to learn something about common flowers with the help of our ordinary botany books, & could echo feelingly Goethe's complaint, much truer in his day than since, that botany was for the most part a mere cataloguing and pigeon-holing of specimens. Mr Darwin had recommended to me Asa Grays short treatise lessons in Botany & some other books of the same kind, which gave an insight into the some general laws of plant life. But to be able to follow with my own eyes in detail, in the structure & functions one small

5

order of living creatures, then to follow, by the this book of Mr Darwins on Orchids gave me a quite new kind of feeling insight about natural history. To be able to follow with my own eyes in one small but curious tribe of plants their peculiar but varied & peculiar structure forms: to see how function depends upon & modifies forms & structure: how elaborate and how various are the modes by which, under slightly different [illeg], the same end is reached: how to find in these cases are unanswerable illustration of the great & living fruitful truths that structure living forms are constantly varying; that so as to adapt themselves to varying circs; that fertility depends upon crossing & that this again illu [illeg] is promoted by the crossing of different individuals; that the vegetable world does not stand alone, but is developed by & aids to develop other creatures: and finally, which seems to me the most fruitful how generalization of all, that if we want to find out learn the raison d'Etre of any particular form or function though we must see try to find out in what way it conduces to their welfare & existence & welfare of the creature

6

all this gave me a quite new insight & interest.

In examining the English Orchids with the book one or two trifling points in the book struck me as struck me not absolutely accurate. about which About those I wrote to Mr Darwin and the following notes are his replies. It had struck me also that if each creature has its form & functions adapted to its own wants, it was questionable whether it was right to use the word "degradation" of one which might not be quite so specialized as others, even if the want of specialization it had previously been more specialized & had ceased to be so. It had also struck me that the pollinia of Ophrys the Fly Orchis and do undergo a Muscifera and of Pterostylis vernalis do undergo a movement of depression like as they do others. The Mr Darwin's notes are clearly remarkable for the readiness [illeg] with with which Mr Darwin acceptedany new observations eventhough at variance with his own & from the most inexperienced observers. He

[7]

published them & other addenda to his work on Orchids in the Annals & Magazine for Natural History Septr 1869.

here copy the notes marked 1. 2. & 3

[Darwin, C. R. 1869. Notes on the fertilization of orchids. Annals and Magazine of Natural History (ser. 4) 4 (September): 141-59, p. 144: "On the movement of the pollinia of Ophrys muscifera (p. 56).— Mr. T. H. Farrer, who has lately been attending to the fertilization of various plants, has convinced me that I have erred, and that the pollinia of this Ophrys do undergo a movement of depression. Hence my remarks on the correlation of the various parts of the flower are to a certain extent invalidated; but there can be no doubt that the naturally bent caudicle plays an important part in placing the pollen-mass in a proper position for striking the stigma. I have continued occasionally to watch the flowers of this species, but have never succeeded in seeing insects visit them; but I have been led to suspect that they puncture or gnaw the small lustrous prominences beneath the viscid disks, which, I may add, are likewise present in several allied species. I have observed very minute punctures on these prominences, but I could not decide whether these had been made by insects or whether superficial cells had spontaneously burst." Darwin cited Farrer's assistance in Orchids 2d ed.]

[7v]

that flower. The suggestion is very probably worthless & could only be confirmed or refuted by examinationon the spot countries where the flowers grow naturally must free from gardeners meddling. But I mention in order to

[Darwin to Farrer 6 May 1868]

no 1

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 6 May 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 19 May 1868]

no 2

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 19 May 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 5 June 1868]

 no 3

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 5 June 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 5 June 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[8]

In the autumn of 1868, I had amused myself with watching the fertilization & compact structure of the Scarlet Runner and Common blue garden Lobelia, and sent Mr Darwin which seemed to me as curious as those of Orchids, and I sent my notes to Mr Darwin. He characteristically replied that these had engaged his own attention and that he had described them 10 years before ago & he sent me his the printed notes. But he not only begged me to publish mine but sent them to the Annals & Magazine of Natural History where they appeared on     1868. The follg letters refer to this matter.

[Farrer. 1868. On the manner of fertilization of the scarlet runner and blue lobelia. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4th ser. 2: 255-63. A2911]

(here copy the notes marked 4, 5 & 6)

[Darwin to Farrer 15 September 1868]

no 4

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 15 September 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 15 September 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 15 September 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 19 September 1868]

no 5

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 19 September 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 19 September 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 19 September 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 24 September 1868]

6

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 24 September 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[9]

The follg note was another in answer to a request for some advice as to the mode of observation

(here copy the notes include 7.)

7

[Darwin to Farrer 26 November 1868]

 7

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 26 November 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 26 November 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Enclosure]

[Farrer enclosed these notes on the papilionaceous genus Charozema [Chorizema] with his 21 November 1868 letter to Darwin. See Correspondence vol. 16. See Farrer's notes based on an enclosure to Darwin in Correspondence vol. 17 Appendix IV Notes on Passiflora and Tacsonia.]

[Enclosure]

[Enclosure]

[Enclosure]

Not to be copied

THF

[10]

During the summer of 1869 I was much interested by examining the some of our most Common Papilionaceous flowers with a view to their fertilisation and though I do had found in the continuous adaptations to this object visits of insects for nectar the cause of their monadelphous & diadelphous stamens, as well as other peculiarities in this very interesting tribe. The follg is an are answers to a notes from me on this and other subjects.

(Here copy the note marked 8. & 9)

[Darwin to Farrer 10 August 1869]

No. 8

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 17.]

[Darwin to Farrer 10 August 1869]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 17.]

[Darwin to Farrer 10 August 1869]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 17.]

[Darwin to Farrer 10 August 1869]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 17.]

[Darwin to Farrer 29 October 1868]

No. 9

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 29 October 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[Darwin to Farrer 29 October 1868]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 16.]

[11]

that flower. The suggestion is very possibly worthless & could only be verified or refuted by examination of flowers in the countries where they grow naturally, free from artificial coddling. What interested me was to see that on this as on almost any other de point of detailed observation Mr Darwin could always say "Yes; but at one time I made some observations myself on this particular point; and I think you will find &c &c." That he should after years of interval remember that he had noticed the peculiar structures to which I was referring in the Passiflora Princeps structure at the time as very remarkable.

(here copy notes marked 10, 11, & 12) 13

The follg notes I [text excised]

[Darwin to Farrer 20 October 1869]

No. 10

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 17.]

[Darwin to Farrer 20 October 1869]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 17.]

[Darwin to Farrer 20 October 1869]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 17.]

[Darwin to Farrer December 1869]

No. 11

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 17.]

[Darwin to Farrer December 1869]

 12

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 17.]

[Darwin to Farrer December 1869]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 17.]

[Darwin to Farrer December 1869]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 17.]

[Darwin to Farrer 13 May 1870]

No. 13

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 18.]

[Darwin to Farrer 13 May 1870]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 18.]

[Archivist note:]

With No 13 Note from Fritz Müller 1870 Feb 16 with Flower specimen

[Fritz Müller to Darwin, 16 Feb. 1870]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 18.]

[12]

I had suggested that the movement of the stamens of this Berberis were not for fertilizing the pistil on which they close, but for dusting with pollens the insects whose visit causes them to move and the follg note is the reply.

(here copy no 14)

[Darwin to Farrer 28 May 1870]

No. 14

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 18.]

[Darwin to Farrer 28 May 1870]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 18.]

[Darwin to Farrer 28 May 1870]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 18.]

[Darwin to Farrer 28 May 1870]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 18.]

[Darwin to Farrer 28 May 1870]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 18.]

[Darwin to Farrer 2 March 1871]

No. 14a

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 19.]

[13]

10

I had continued to amuse myself with the fertilisation of papilionaceous flowers & finally finally autumn of 1872 sent to Mr Darwin a paper with the results. The follg notes with upon it will show the kind interest he shewed & unwavering trouble he took in helping me

(here copy no 15.)

[Darwin to Farrer 1872]

No. 15

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 20.]

[Darwin to Farrer 1872]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 20.]

[14]

I paid him a visit in the autumn of 1872 and he recommended me the follg list of books. & lent me many several of them.

(here copy no 16.)

[15]

Given by C Darwin 1872

No 16

De la Fecondation dans les Phanerogames
Eugene Fournier.

Untersuchungen uber Nectarien Kurr
[J. G. Kurr. 1833. Untersuchungen über die Bedeutung der Nektarien in den Blumen.]

Journal of Linnean Socy
Vol IX no. 38

Atti della Societ Italiana
Vol XI

Fecondazione nelle Piante anto carpee
F. Delpino

Pensieri sulla Biologia Vegetale
F. Delpino

Distribuzione dei Sessi &c by Hildebrand

Corturin by Delpino

f Dc

Dicogama nel Regno Vegetale
F. Delpino

Swedish Book

Sprengel.

[15v]

[crossed page]

[Darwin to Farrer 1 Dec. 1873]

(17a)

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 1 Dec. 1873]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

No 17.

[16]

I well remember passing this time on a long & tiresome journey back by reading some of them, and the being vexed for a momentary trouble caused by on finding that Delpino had anticipated nearly all that I had observed on the papilionaceous flowers. I wrote to tell Mr Darwin & the follg is the his reply

(here copy no 17)

[Darwin to Farrer 10 Oct. 1872]

No. 17

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 20.]

[Darwin to Farrer 10 Oct. 1872]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 20.]

[Darwin to Farrer 10 Oct. 1872]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 20.]

[17]

Encouraged by him I sent my paper to Nature and it appeared in the numbers of 10th & 17th Octr 1872. The follg is a note he wrote me upon it

[T. H. Farrer. 1872. On the fertilisation of a few common papilionaceous flowers. Nature (10 & 17 October): 478-80; 498-501: "Note to Editor,—The enclosed paper was written in the autumn of 1869, and then submitted to Mr. Darwin. With his usual kindness he encouraged me to proceed with it; and with his usual thoroughness he advised me to make it more complete than it is before giving it to the public. At the same time, he lent me various publications containing articles on the subject of fertilisation, and, amongst others, some by the Italian botanist, Delpino, who has done so much in this field. I found that he had in two or three publications in the years 1867 and 1868, anticipated most of the observations contained in the accompanying paper; and I proposed to myself to attempt a résumé of what had been done of late years in the matter of fertilisation of flowers by Delpino, Hildebrand, and others. But this labour of love, is a greater labour than I can manage, and other calls have grown upon me. I therefore send the paper to you as it stands, begging that this note may be prefixed in order that I may not be thought to be appropriating Delpino's observations,—T. H, F., October 1872."]

here copy (no 18) and 19

[Darwin to Farrer 13 Oct. 1873]

No. 18

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 13 Oct. 1873]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 13 Oct. 1873]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 28 April 1873]

No. 19

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[18]

11

In the beginning of August 1873 he paid us the first of several [illeg] visits & at Abinger, visits to which I always look back with very great pleasure. So long as he was able to talk he was full of cheery conversation; but he always liked to take his strolls alone. He took a liking to my gardener Payne, who took a very intelligent interest in Mr Darwins books, and was always constantly seeking to get from him practical information. He loved to stroll down to our garden when we had a considerable number quantity of herbaceous flowers and always found something to observe. One thing which most interest him was a "Stipa" whose seeds are barbed in such a manner as to work into the ground like a [illeg] & hold when there; and whose the footstalks of which are first bent in such a way as to place the front of the seed against the earth, & in the second twist

11

["Payne, George, 1841?-1924. Sir Thomas Farrer's gardener at Abinger Hall from April 1870 until at least 1914, trained at Kew. P helped CD on Mimosa. 1873 CD to Farrer, "As he is so acute a man, I should very much like to hear his opinion" on water damage to leaves. CCD21:321." (Paul van Helvert & John van Wyhe, Darwin: A Companion, 2021)]

[19]

12

(20)

and untwist with changes of moisture so as to screw the barbed seed into the soft earth.

For many days he had saucers full of earth & [illeg] with of those seeds in his own room watching their operations of burying. Above my house are some low sand hills [connecting] at the bare basin grounds strata covered with fern gorse and heaths corresponding fruiting trees of the pleasant valley See Back. Here it was a particular pleasure of his to wander; and his tall figure with his broad brimmed Panama hat, & long stick like an Alpen stock Built of a stick, sauntering solitary & slow over our favourite walks, is one of the pleasantest of the many pleasant associations I have with the place.

On the occasion of this visit he was particularly interested with some species of Coronilla ─ especially Coronilla varia, which refused to obey the law which I thought formed the structure of most of the Papilionaceous flowers, and the follg is a note which he wrote me after he left us. This & the subsequent note was written in the winter. He never forget what [3 words illeg] letters of

(here copy No 21)

(here copy no 20)

[Pencil annotation not in Farrer's hand:] P. More letters vol II see back of this sheet

[More letters 2: 392, these remarks were printed as: "Above my house are some low hills, standing up in the valley, below the chalk range on the one hand and the more distant range of Leith Hill on the other, with pretty views of the valley towards Dorking in one direction and Guildford in the other. They are composed of the less fertile Greensand strata, and are covered with fern, broom, gorse, and heath. Here it was a particular pleasure of his to wander, and his tall figure, with his broad-brimmed Panama hat and long stick like an alpenstock, sauntering solitary and slow over our favourite walks, is one of the pleasantest of the many pleasant associations I have with the place."]

12

[19v]

are some low hills, standing up in the valley, below the chalk range on the one hand and the more distant range of Leith Hill on the other, with pretty views of the valley towards Dorking in one direction, & Guildford in the other. They are composed of the more less fertile green sand strata & are cro covered with fern broom, gorse & heath.

[Darwin to Farrer 10 Aug. 1873]

No 20

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 10 Aug. 1873]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 14 Aug. 1873]

No 21

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 14 Aug. 1873]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 14 Aug. 1873]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 14 Aug. 1873]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 14 Aug. 1873]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 14 Aug. 1873]

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 21.]

[Darwin to Farrer 10 April 1874]

No 22

[The letter is transcribed in Correspondence vol. 22.]

[20]

(39)

Not to be copied

[Pencil annotation not in Farrer's hand:] More Letters p. 388

[Draft of a letter to Darwin. Published in Correspondence vol. 18, p. 134:]

M. Mullers dried Passiflora visited by humming birds – May/70

I am not at all disappointed ─ as far as I can make out from the dried specimen the corona is not stiff & like a grating ─ nor is there any [interior] process which should prevent a humming bird getting into the nectary

THF 24 May/70

[21]

13

[Pencil annotation not in Farrer's hand:] P. slightly altered More Letters p. 392

Just after this I thought I had found out what puzzled us in Coronilla varia; in most of the Papilionaceæ where the tenth stamen is free there is nectar in the staminal tube and the opening caused by the free stamen enables the bee to reach the nectar, and in so doing the bee fertilises the plant. In Coronilla varia and in several other species of Coronilla there is no nectar in the staminal tube or in the tube of the corolla. But those are [illeg] peculiar glands with nectar on the outside of the calyx and peculiar openings in the tube of the corollas through which the bees can reach these glands, thus fertilizing the plant, and on writing it was this which to Mr Darwin I received the follg characteristic note

(here copy no 21)

The first Postscript relates to some rough ground behind my house, over which he was fond

13

[More Letters 2: 392-3: "I thought I had found out what puzzled us in Coronilla varia: in most of the Papilionaceae, when the tenth stamen is free, there is nectar in the staminal tube, and the opening caused by the free stamen enables the bee to reach the nectar, and in so doing the bee fertilises the plant. In Coronilla varia, and in several other species of Coronilla, there is no nectar in the staminal tube or in the tube of the corolla. But there are peculiar glands with nectar on the outside of the calyx, and peculiar openings in the tube of the corolla through which the proboscis of the bee, whilst entering the flower in the usual way and dusting itself with pollen, can reach these glands, thus fertilising the plant in getting the nectar. On writing this to Mr. Darwin, I received the following characteristic note.
The first postscript relates to the rough ground behind my house, over which he was fond of strolling. It had been ploughed up and then allowed to go back, and the interest was to watch how the numerous species of weeds of cultivation which followed the plough gradually gave way in the struggle for existence to the well-known and much less varied flora of an English common."]

[22]

(39)

[Pencil annotation not in Farrer's hand:]  P L. & L. p 279

The follg three notes refers to some suggestions caused Passiflora & Tacsonia, in which I had suggested that the elaborate series of chevaux de frise by which the nectary of the the common Passiflora is guarded, were specially calculated to protect the flower from the stiff beaked humming birds which would not fertilize it, and to facilitate the visits access of the little proboscis of the humble bee which would do so, whilst on the other hand the f long pendent tube and flexible valve like corona of the which retains the nectar of Tacsonia would shut out the bee, which would not, & admit the humming bird, which would fertilize

8

[Life and letters 3: 279: "In 1869, Sir Thomas Farrer corresponded with my father on the fertilisation of Passiflora and of Tacsonia. He has given me his impressions of the correspondence:— "I had suggested that the elaborate series of chevaux-de-frise, by which the nectary of the common Passiflora is guarded, were specially calculated to protect the flower from the stiff-beaked humming birds which would not fertilize it, and to facilitate the access of the little proboscis of the humble bee, which would do so; whilst, on the other hand, the long pendent tube and flexible valve-like corona which retains the nectar of Tacsonia would shut out the bee, which would not, and admit the humming bird which would, fertilize that flower. The suggestion is very possibly worthless, and could only be verified or refuted by examination of flowers in the countries where they grow naturally. . . . What interested me was to see that on this as on almost any other point of detailed observation, Mr. Darwin could always say, 'Yes; but at one time I made some observations myself on this particular point; and I think you will find, &c. &c.' That he should after years of interval remember that he had noticed the peculiar structure to which I was referring in the Passiflora princeps struck me at the time as very remarkable."]

[22]

23

[Pencil annotation not in Farrer's hand:]  (Next to page x)

I would very have often regretted that indolence or incapacity have prevented me from taking notes of what I have heard in conversation, and never more than in n thinking of the pleasant & general talk with Mr Darwin. There were subjects in on which he was silent; some and those not unimportant of which perhaps ─ he ignored. But like the remarkable fraction of his mind on subjects in which he took interest was his anxious desire to obtain from every one, be it whose it might, whatever that one had to give; and his humility in accepting and making the best of what was given, however little. He touched us all with almost much forbearance, too much humility, too much attention. But the result has been that what he has said is listened to and accepted; whilst the utterances of more dogmatic & intolerant men are received with fear, suspicion & dislike

23

[23]

[Pencil annotation not in Farrer's hand:] 24 P. X ---- X

X The last time I had any conversation with him was at my house in Bryanston Square just before one of his last seizures.

He was then deeply interested in the vivisection question: and I will here, made a deep impression on me. : for he was a man eminently fond of animals & tender to them: he would not knowingly have inflicted pain on a living creature; but he entertained the strongest opinion that to prohibit altogether experiments on living animals would be to prevent put a stop to remedies the knowledge of and the remedies of pain & disease, X and would thus indirectly cause quite unfortunately more suffering both to men and animals than could arise from any number of the worst & most reckless experiments

we

[Life and letters 3: 200-201: "An extract from Sir Thomas Farrer's notes shows how strongly he expressed himself in a similar manner in conversation:—'The last time I had any conversation with him was at my house in Bryanston Square, just before one of his last seizures. He was then deeply interested in the vivisection question; and what he said made a deep impression on me. He was a man eminently fond of animals and tender to them; he would not knowingly have inflicted pain on a living creature; but he entertained the strongest opinion that to prohibit experiments on living animals, would be to put a stop to the knowledge of and the remedies for pain and disease.'"]


This document has been accessed 3729 times

Return to homepage

Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

File last updated 26 July, 2023