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Letter 6391

Farrer, T. H. to Darwin, C. R.

24 Sept 1868

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    Wonderful how every flower one looks at is explained by, and throws light on, the fertilising process.


Eashing Park

24 Sept/68

My dear Mr Darwin

The printers of the Annals of Natural History have sent me proofs at once; and I am not a little astonished at seeing my own name in print to a paper on such a subject—which after all is a good deal more interesting than ``Tonnage'' &c  Many thanks to you for all your kindness.

It is wonderful how every flower one looks at is explained by & throws light on the fertilizing process. The anthers & hollow stigma & spur of Viola: the tails of anthers in Erica: the difference of times of maturity of stamens & pistil in Mallow Achimenes &c &c—and above all the wonderful Co relation of variety of similar structure in flowers nearly related—e.g. in Kidney Bean: Broad Bean: Pea: & Furze—afford endless entertainment and illustration of what is I hope something more than Entertainment. It is pleasant to see what interest this has given to my little girl with whom I sometimes pick flowers to pieces— She says with truth that botany—however interesting is too much dead work— This is living.

I cannot help sending you from memory what I dare say you know well—a great favorite of mine among Goethes scattered bits of wisdom—which I think would make a capital motto for your book.

Pray dont answer this— It is only thanks

Sincerely yours | T H Farrer Immer so vor vielen Jahren
Eifrig war der Geist bestrebt
Zu erforschen, zu erfahren
Wie Natur im Schaffen lebt:
Und es ist das Einzig Eine,
Das sich vielfach offenbart;
Klein das Grosse, gross das Kleine,
Alles nach der eignen Art:
Immer wechselnd, fest sich haltend;
Nah und fern, und fern und nah
Sich gestaltend, umgestaltend—
Zum erstaunen bin ich da!

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 6391.f1
    See letter to T. H. Farrer, 24 September [1868] and n. 2. Farrer refers to his employment as secretary of the Board of Trade.
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    f2 6391.f2
    See letters to T. H. Farrer, 15 September [1868], 19 September [1868], and 24 September [1868].
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    f3 6391.f3
    Farrer refers to dichogamy in Malva (mallow) and Achimenes, and to similar reproductive structures in several papilionaceous plants, including Phaseolus vulgaris (the kidney bean), and Ulex europaeus (furze).
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    f4 6391.f4
    Emma Cecilia Farrer was then thirteen or fourteen.
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    f5 6391.f5
    Farrer refers to Variation. Farrer's transcription of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's poem `Parabase' following his signature, differs slightly from the the original in the first, second, and fifth lines; the poem is one of a collection called `Gott und Welt' from 1827 (see Goethe 1988, p. 495). For a verse translation of the original poem, see Goethe 1983, p. 70. For a translation of Farrer's version, see n. 6, below.
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    f6 6391.f6
    Farrer's version of Goethe's poem (see n. 5, above) may be translated as follows: Always thus many years ago the mind was keenly striving to investigate, to find out how nature lives in creating: and it is the single one that reveals itself many ways; the great is small, the small great, each according to its own kind: always changing, holding fast; near and far and far and near, forming and transforming itself— I am here to marvel at it!
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