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Letter 5622

Delpino, Federico to Darwin, C. R.

5 Sept 1867

    Summary Add

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    Support CD's views on variability of species, but believes they must be interpreted "spiritualisticamente".

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    Cross-fertilisation in the Asclepiadaceae.


-- -- Illustre Signore

Pieno d'ammirazione pel grande talento della S. V. Illm˜a, oso offerirle in omaggio due miei scritti.

Se Ella si compiacerà di darvi uno sguardo, si accorgerà tosto quanta influenza abbiano avuto su di me le Sue ammirabili opere sulla variabilità delle specie e sulla fecondazione delle orchidee.

Quanto alla prima opera, accettando interamente il piano di variazione così ingegnosamente trovato ed esposto dalla S. V., mi parve doverlo interpretare Spiritualisticamente, locché (se non sono in errore) toglie via tutte quante le objezioni sollevate contro il piano medesimo.

Quanto alla seconda opera, Ella vedrà che io sono stato fortunato di ritrovare che la legge delle nozze miste mediante gl'insetti ha luogo nelle asclepiadee e in altre famiglie di piante con pari ragione che nelle orchidee.

Le chieggo perdono della libertà che mi prendo, ed ho l'onore di protestarmi con profonda stima

Suo vero ammiratore e servitore | Delpino Federico

Italia | Genova | Chiavari addì 5 7.bre 1867


Distinguished Sir

Full of admiration for the great talent of your most distinguished honour, I venture to offer you two of my publications as a token of my respect.

If it pleases you to glance at them, you will notice at once how much influence your admirable works on the variability of species and on the fertilisation of orchids had on me.

Concerning the first work, while I accept entirely the model of variation that has been so ingeniously uncovered and expounded by your honour, it seems to me that it needs to be interpreted in a spiritualistic manner, which (unless I am mistaken) would dispose of all the objections that have been raised against the selfsame model.

Concerning the second work, you will see that I have had the good luck of finding that the law of mixed marriages mediated by insects occurs in equal proportions in the asclepiads and other plant families as in orchids.

I beg your pardon for the liberty I have taken, and have the honour of professing my deep respect

Your true admirer and servant | Delpino Federico

Italy | Genoa | Chiavari 5 September 1867

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 05622.f1
    For a translation of this letter, see Appendix I.
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    f2 05622.f2
    Delpino sent his paper on Friedrich Hildebrand's essay on the distribution of the sexes in plants and the prevention of self-fertilisation (Delpino 1867a) and another paper on the mechanisms to ensure fertilisation in seed plants (Delpino 1867b). CD's annotated copies (together with three additional pages of notes affixed to Delpino 1867a) are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL.
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    f3 05622.f3
    Delpino refers to Origin and Orchids.
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    f4 05622.f4
    Delpino refers to Delpino 1867a. On Delpino's philosophical position and his attempt to reconcile Darwinian transmutation theory with his own teleological approach, based on Kantian nature philosophy, see Pancaldi 1991, pp. 107--36.
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    f5 05622.f5
    See Delpino 1867b. Delpino alludes to CD's statement: `it is apparently a universal law of nature that organic beings require an occasional cross with another individual' (Orchids, p. 1; see also Origin, p. 97). Delpino had published an earlier article on the mechanism to ensure fertilisation in asclepiads, with some considerations on final causes and CD's theory of the origin of species (Delpino 1865).
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