To William Benjamin Carpenter 26 January 1
Down Bromley Kent
Will you read the enclosed which need not be returned?2 And I beg & supplicate you to direct your gardener to plant in due time on the island, of which you are sovereign Lord,3 some scarlet Kidney Beans, & when you are there, move the wing-petals of several flowers, soon after flower has opened & once a second time: it will not take you five minutes to do a dozen or two flowers, & see whether you do not get a crop.4 Though I must confess I can hardly believe that your island is not visited occasionally by at least Humble bees. If after careful watching you really never see a Bee of any species, it would be eminently curious to observe what plants grow & seed freely there. For in many other plants besides Leguminosae the agency of insects is highly useful & in some few cases indispensable to their fertilisation.5
I hope that you will be so kind as to make the experiment on the Kidney-beans & believe me dear Carpenter
Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin
Asks WBC to plant some kidney beans [on Holy Island near Arran] and to see whether they are ever visited by bees. If no bees visit the island, it would be "curious" to observe what plants grow there.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2043,” accessed on 13 February 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2043