From Lydia Ernestine Becker 6 February 1867
Manchester Ladies’ Literary Society. | 10 Grove st | Ardwick
Feb. 6. 1867.
My dear Sir
I return you—with more thanks than I know how to express, the two papers which you were so good as to entrust to my care.1 Will you have the kindness to cause me to be informed of their arrival—having once lost a book-post packet I shall feel a little anxious till I hear they are again in your hands—and this induces me to give you the little extra trouble involved in registering the packet—for which I must apologise.
I have transcribed portions of them, and made large copies of the diagrams— I hope this was not wrong—without your permission, but I thought, as they were printed—I might do so without impropriety.
The arrangements in Lythrum are indeed most marvellous. It sets one wondering whether different sized stamens in the same flower can ever be quite without meaning, and if there is any difference in the action of the pollen of the long and short stamens in didynamous and tetradynamous flowers.2 In the N. O. Geraniaceae 3 it seems as if there might be some transition going on—for in Geranium each alternate stamen is smaller, and in the allied genus Erodium the alternate stamens have become sterile. Can it be possible that this genus was once dimorphic, and one of the female forms having by any means become exterminated, the corresponding set of stamens have shed away? If one of the forms of Lythrum were to disappear—two sets of stamens would be made useless to the species, and it is conceivable that they might then gradually become abortive.4
I obeyed your directions about the paper on Climbing Plants and the insight into their extraordinary and regular movements was a new revelation to all of us.5 I made large copies of the diagrams and dived into my herbarium for specimens of each class of climbers, bringing up enough to make a goodly show. Luckily a collection of ferns from the islands of the South Pacific recently presented to me contained a specimen of one named in your paper Lygodium scandens. Till I read it I had never dreamed of twiners in this class, as none of our British ferns have the habit,6 but as the “march of intellect” seems to be the order of the day, even in the vegetable world, there is no telling what they may accomplish in time!
Our society appears likely to prosper beyond my expectations the countenance you have afforded has been of wonderful service, and I do hope that by becoming useful to its members it may prove in some degree worthy of the generous encouragement you have given us.
The ladies who had the privilege of listening to the paper desire to express their thanks to you for it, which I hope you will be pleased to accept.
Believe me to be | yours gratefully | Lydia E. Becker.
Thanks CD for Lythrum paper [Collected papers 2: 106–31] and "Climbing plants" sent to Manchester Ladies’ Literary Society. Comments on Lythrum.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5391,” accessed on 3 May 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5391