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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Federico Delpino1   22 August 1869

Firenze

22. Agosto 1869

Celeberrimo uomo!

Animato dalla cortesia con cui la S.V. Si compiacque aggradire due miei scritti editi nel 1867, mi prendo la libertà di comunicar le tre altri miei lavori successivi. 2 Accetti in omaggio il tenuissimo dono.

Le dottrine che harmo la fortuna di essere propugnate dalla prima Intelligenza del secolo nostro, trovano anche in me un difensore, scarso di mezzi sì ma pieno di buona volontà. Ho cercato di contribuire per quanto stava in me alla illustrazione delle dottrine della Dicogamia e della variabilità delle specie.

Duolmi per altro di non potere consentire in alcune idee generali. Forse per errore di mente ma certo con profonda convinzione io sono teleologo. Io credo che quel principio razionale di cui l’uomo si Sente animato, governi non meno tutti gli altri esseri, comprese le piante. E credo che la causa prima di tutte le variazioni, sia in bene che in male, con progresso o con regresso, consista appunto in questo principio intrinseco, innato in tutti gli esseri.3

Comunque sia, dalle mie ricerche botaniche mi risulta che la variabilità delle specie non merita più di essere chiamata teoria: tutte le parti della scienza concorrono, almeno secondo me, a metterne in chiara luce l’assoluta verità di fatto.

Onore dunque alla Intelligenza che seppe dare tanto impulso al pensiero umano. Onore al primo naturalista del Secolo, del quale pregio protestarmi

Ossequentissimo discepolo | Federico Delpino

Assistente di botanica al museo di Storia naturale in Firenze.

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix I.
Delpino refers to ‘Pensieri sulla biologia vegetale, sulla tassonomia, sul valore tassonomico dei caratteri biologici, e proposta di un genere nuovo della famiglia delle labiate’ (Thoughts on plant biology, taxonomy, the taxonomic value of biological characters, and the proposal of a new genus of the labiate family; Delpino 1867c), the first part of Ulteriori osservazioni sulla dicogamia nel regno vegetale (Further observations on dichogamy in the vegetable kingdom; Delpino 1868–75), and ‘Sulla darwiniana teoria della pangenesi’ (On the Darwinian theory of pangenesis; Delpino 1869a). Delpino had sent CD two papers on dichogamy in 1867 (Delpino 1867a and 1867b; see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Federico Delpino, 5 September 1867 and n. 2).
For more on Delpino’s teleological approach to CD’s theory, see Pancaldi 1991, pp. 107–36.

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Delpino, Federico. 1868–75. Ulteriori osservazioni sulla dicogamia nel regno vegetale. 2 parts. Milan: Giuseppe Bernardoni. [Originally published in Atti della Societa Italiana di Scienze Naturali Milano 11 (1868): 265–352; 12 (1869): 179–233; 13 (1870): 167–205; 17 (1874): 266–407.]

Pancaldi, Giuliano. 1991. Darwin in Italy. Science across cultural frontiers. Translated by Ruey Brodine Morelli. Updated and expanded edition. Bloomington and Indianapolis, Ind.: Indiana University Press.

Translation

From Federico Delpino1   22 August 1869

Florence

22. August 1869

Most famous man!

Encouraged by the courtesy with which you were kind enough to appreciate two works of mine published in 1867, I take the liberty to send you three later works of mine.2 Please accept the homage of this humble offering.

The doctrines that are fortunate enough to be propounded by the highest intellect of our century can count me amongst their supporters, albeit one poor in intellectual power but rich in good will. I have tried to make contributions to as great an extent as I could to the illustrations of the doctrine of dichogamy and the variability of species.

On the other hand I regret not to be able to consent to some general ideas. Perhaps because of intellectual error but certainly with profound conviction, I am a teleologist. I believe that the rational principle by which man is conscious of being animated rules all other beings as well, plants included. And I believe that the first cause of all variations, whether for better or worse, progressive or regressive, lies exactly in this inner principle, inborn in all beings.3

Be that as it may, from my botanical researches I reach the conclusion that the variability of species cannot be called a theory: all aspects of science concur, at least according to me, to show that it is clearly an absolutely true fact.

Praise be the intellect that was able to give so much impetus to human thought. Praise be to the foremost naturalist of the century, of which I have the honour of remaining | most humble disciple | Federico Delpino

Assistant in botany at the Museo di Storia Naturale, Florence

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original Italian, see p. 368.
Delpino refers to ‘Pensieri sulla biologia vegetale, sulla tassonomia, sul valore tassonomico dei caratteri biologici, e proposta di un genere nuovo della famiglia delle labiate’ (Thoughts on plant biology, taxonomy, the taxonomic value of biological characters, and the proposal of a new genus of the labiate family; Delpino 1867c), the first part of Ulteriori osservazioni sulla dicogamia nel regno vegetale (Further observations on dichogamy in the vegetable kingdom; Delpino 1868–75), and ‘Sulla darwiniana teoria della pangenesi’ (On the Darwinian theory of pangenesis; Delpino 1869a). Delpino had sent CD two papers on dichogamy in 1867 (Delpino 1867a and 1867b; see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Federico Delpino, 5 September 1867 and n. 2).
For more on Delpino’s teleological approach to CD’s theory, see Pancaldi 1991, pp. 107–36.

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Delpino, Federico. 1868–75. Ulteriori osservazioni sulla dicogamia nel regno vegetale. 2 parts. Milan: Giuseppe Bernardoni. [Originally published in Atti della Societa Italiana di Scienze Naturali Milano 11 (1868): 265–352; 12 (1869): 179–233; 13 (1870): 167–205; 17 (1874): 266–407.]

Pancaldi, Giuliano. 1991. Darwin in Italy. Science across cultural frontiers. Translated by Ruey Brodine Morelli. Updated and expanded edition. Bloomington and Indianapolis, Ind.: Indiana University Press.

Summary

Declares himself CD’s defender; but he is a "teleologist".

Sends CD three more papers.

His research confirms his faith and belief in variability of species.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-6866
From
Federico Delpino
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Florence
Source of text
DAR 162: 143
Physical description
3pp (Italian)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6866,” accessed on 22 November 2019, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-6866.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17

letter