Dislikes the use of the term "degradation" as applied to the closed flowers of Viola species. Species with such self-fertilising flowers also have flowers adapted for crossing. The development of closed flowers adapted to ensure a sufficient stock of seed is progressive.
Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.
My dear M
Thanks for your note. I doubted about degradation, & had not slightest objection to gradation, because I did not like the idea, & knew nothing about the facts.
I disliked & still dislike the idea because I can see no
reason for it. V. cornuta (I believe) & certainly V. canina &
odorata produce perfect flowers adapted for a cross, & small
closed flowers to insure a stock of seed through
self-fertilisation. V. tricolor which it seems stands near one
end of the series does not produce the small closed flowers, &
is only very moderately fertile when the visits of insects are
prevented. Hence I can see no meaning in degradation, but every
step in progress w
Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
—But to invert a saying of Agassiz ``Nature often lies'' & does things quite contrary to theory.—
- f1 6730.f1The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from T. H. Farrer, 5 May 1869.
- f2 6730.f2See letter from T. H. Farrer, 5 May 1869 and n. 1. CD refers to different species of Viola.
- f3 6730.f3Louis Agassiz, responding to reports of observations opposed to his theory about when saurians were first created, claimed he did not believe them, `for Nature never lied' (See Correspondence vol. 6, letter to Asa Gray, 1 January ).