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Letter 7018

Darwin, C. R. to Müller, J. F. T.

1 Dec [1869]

    Summary Add

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    Role of humming-birds in plant fertilisation.

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    Alexander Agassiz has visited Down.

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    Sales of Facts and arguments for Darwin.

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    Encloses copy of T. H. Farrer letter [7015] and observations on the self-sterility of Eschscholzia.

Transcription

Down Beckenham | Kent

Dec 1st.

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for your letter of oct 18th, with the curious account of Abutilon & for the seeds. A friend of mine, Mr Farrer has lately been studying the fertilisation of Passiflora, & concluded from the curiously crooked passage into the nectary that it could not be fertilised by humming-birds; but that Tacsonia was thus fertilised. Therefore I sent him the passage from your letter, & I enclose a copy of his answer. If you are inclined to gratify him by making a few observations on this subject, I shall be much obliged & will send them on to him.

I enclose a copy of my rough notes, on your Escholtzias, as you might like to see them.

Somebody has sent me from Germany two papers by you, one with a most curious account of Alisma, & the other on Crustaceans. Your observations on the Bronchiæ & heart have interested me extremely.

Alex. Agassiz has just paid me a visit with his wife. He has been in England two or three months, & is now going to tour over the continent to see all the zoologists. We liked him very much. He is a great admirer of yours, & he tells me that your correspondence & book first made him believe in Evolution. This must have been a great blow to his father, who, as he tells me, is very well & so vigorous that he can work twice as long as he, the son, can. I have been very sorry to hear from him that Dana is quite broken down in health. As I was sure that you would wish it, I gave him a copy of the English translation of your book. By the way Mr Murray takes stock of his books in November, & informs me that of the thousand published of your book, 537 are unsold; & this I think is a very fair sale for a purely scientific work.

Dr Meyer has sent me his translation of Wallace's Malay Archipelago, which is a valuable work; & as I have no use for the translation, I will this day forward it to you by post, but to save postage viâ England. With every good wish believe me, my dear Sir, | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin



[Enclosure: 1]

Escholtzia Californica 1869.

Many plants were raised from crossed seed from self-sterile plants, from S. Brazil, sent by F. Müller. Two plants were covered with nets; & 8 flowers on the two were crossed with pollen from distinct plants, & all produced very fine pods; a medium one contained 80 seed & none contained much fewer seed.

8 flowers on the 2 plants were fertilized with pollen from same flower & produced 7 pods; the finest of these contained 25 seed, the next finest 16 seed, & several others from 4 to 7 or 8 seed; average about 12 seed.

Later in the season, though the uncovered plants still produced pods, 12 flowers were self-fertilized, & they produced only 2 pods, containing 3 & 6 seed; so the colder temperature checked self-fertilization.

There was this difference between the 2 covered plants, that one spontaneously produced only 1 pod with no seed, yet it produced some when artificially self-fertilized; whilst the other plant spontaneously produced 8 pods, the finest of which contained 30 seed, the next finest 12, & several others from 3 to 6 seed.— Hence these 2 plants differed a little in their self-sterility. It was most curious to observe the more sterile plant of the two after it had been uncovered for about a week & insects had access, how it became completely covered with young pods;—wonderfully good evidence of benefit of a cross. These Brazilian plants appear under our climate much more self-fertile than their parents in Brazil, & very much less self-fertile than our English plants— Effect partly inherited, partly the result of external conditions.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 7018.f1
    The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Fritz Müller, 18 October 1869.
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    f2 7018.f2
    Müller evidently enclosed seeds with his letter of 18 October 1869 to replace those that had been damaged earlier (see letter to Fritz Müller, 18 July [1869] and n. 5).
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    f3 7018.f3
    For Thomas Henry Farrer's observations, see Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix IV.
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    f4 7018.f4
    CD sent a copy of the extract from Müller's letter of 18 October 1869 with his letter to T. H. Farrer, [27 November 1869]. For Farrer's original reply, see the letter from T. H. Farrer, 28 November 1869. Both the enclosures to the letter to Müller are copies made by Emma Darwin.
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    f5 7018.f5
    The reference is evidently to a pre-publication copy of `Die Bewegung des Blüthenstieles von Alisma' (The movement of the pedicle in Alisma; F. Müller 1870a); CD's heavily annotated copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL. See also Correspondence vol. 16, letter to Fritz Müller, 3 April [1868] and n. 3. The person in Germany who sent the papers has not been identified.
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    f6 7018.f6
    The second article sent was `Bemerkungen über Cypridina' (F. Müller 1870c); an annotated copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL. Müller observed that two species of Cypridina with branchiae had hearts, while a third species lacked both (F. Müller 1870d, p. 269).
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    f7 7018.f7
    The reference is to Alexander and Anna Russell Agassiz; for more on their European tour, see G. R. Agassiz ed. 1913, pp. 97--114.
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    f8 7018.f8
    CD refers to Für Darwin (F. Müller 1864a). For more on Agassiz's correspondence with Fritz Müller, see Dobbs 2005, pp. 100--1; some of Agassiz's letters to Müller are in G. R. Agassiz ed. 1913, pp. 48--52, 91--4.
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    f9 7018.f9
    Louis Agassiz had been an outspoken critic of CD's theories; for his views on evolution in the late 1860s and early 1870s, see Lurie 1988, pp. 372--7, and Winsor 1991, pp. 150--1. See also letter from Louis Agassiz, 6 July 1869.
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    f10 7018.f10
    On the health problems of James Dwight Dana, see ANB.
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    f11 7018.f11
    The reference is to the translation of F. Müller 1864a (Dallas trans. 1869).
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    f12 7018.f12
    See letter from John Murray, 17 November 1869. Murray was the publisher of Dallas trans. 1869.
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    f13 7018.f13
    Adolf Bernhard Meyer had sent CD his German translation (Wallace 1869c) of Alfred Russel Wallace's The Malay Archipelago: the land of the orang-utan, and the bird of paradise (Wallace 1869a). See letter from A. B. Meyer, 16 November 1869.
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    f14 7018.f14
    The enclosure, written in Emma Darwin's hand, is a copy of notes written by CD that are now in DAR 76: B31--2.
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    f15 7018.f15
    Müller had sent CD seeds of Eschscholzia californica (the California poppy) earlier in the year, and CD had reported on their growth; see letter from Fritz Müller, 12 January 1869, and letter to Fritz Müller, 18 July [1869] and n. 6. CD included the information in Cross and self fertilisation, pp. 111--12.
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    f16 7018.f16
    For CD's published discussion on the self-sterility of Eschscholzia californica in Brazil, and the effect of changed conditions on the plant's reproductive system, see Cross and self fertilisation, pp. 343, 358, 444, and 449.
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