Letter icon
Letter 8676

Treat, Mary to Darwin, C. R.

13 Dec 1872

    Summary Add

  • +

    Drosera filiformis captures only small insects [but see 8989].

  • +

    Writes of her experiments with butterflies.

  • +

    CD's theory steadily gains ground in the U. S., despite Agassiz.


Vineland, New Jersey,

Dec. 13, 1872.

Mr. Darwin:

Dear Sir,

Prof. Gray writes me that you have found the nerves in Dionæa. Good! And he asks me, in connection with himself, to make observations on Drosera filiformis, which I will gladly do.

As far as my observations extend, I do not consider this species so interesting as D. longifolia, or D. rotundifolia, although fully as carnivorous as the two latter, yet it captures only small insects which do not require any movement of the leaves to help confine them.

For some reason my plants did not work so well last season as the year before. Whether they were weakened by the unusually dry spring, or whether the locality from which I obtained them was not so good, or whether the fault may not have been somewhat with myself, I cannot say. For two months, commencing in early summer, almost my whole time and thought were concentrated on butterflies in the effort to control sex. The result of my experiments will appear in the American Naturalist.

My observations and experiments with butterflies, lead me to think that the theory of the Hive bee is not correct. I know that I shall meet with opposition, so the only way is to experiment. I have already engaged a Langstroth observing hive for rearing queens, and shall carry on these observations, as well as continue my experiments with butterflies the coming season.

Your theory is steadily gaining ground among the masses and thinking people of this country, Prof. Agassiz to the contrary notwithstanding. It is boldly advocated from an Orthodox pulpit in this place, and from the Unitarian pulpit we have had a series of discourses teaching the people your theory. Nothing brings out a crowd on Sunday, like the announcement that Darwinism is to be the theme. Surely the world moves!

Command me in whatever way you may wish observations made, on birds, insects, or plants, and I shall only be too glad to render assistance as far as in my power.

Accept my thanks for your courteous reply to my former letter, and believe me | Yours most sincerely, | Mary Treat.

    Footnotes Add

  • +
    f1 8676.f1
    This letter is not yet published in the edition of The correspondence of Charles Darwin; it will appear in volume 20. The text is being made available here ahead of print publication as part of the `Darwin and Gender' project funded by The Bonita Trust.
Maximized view Print letter