From T. H. Farrer 17 September 1868
17 Sept /68
My dear Mr Darwin,
When I shewed my wife the Scarlet Runner her observation was—“Do you think nobody has seen that before”!—an observation in which she was, as usual, and in which I at once admitted she was—perfectly right—1
Really it is a ten times greater pleasure to find that one has seen something accurately, and has not found a mare’s nest,2 than to think one has seen something which nobody has seen before—a thought which certainly never entered my mind.
You dont know how kind I think your note.3 This encouragement given to what is of real interest to oneself, though it never be more than an amusement, is no slight gain
But your kindness is repaid by the infliction of another paper on the blue Lobelia, which to an amateur botanical friend of mine, who is here—Rothery—a great ally of Hookers, is as interesting as the Bean.4 No doubt you have recorded this also.
In case you really think them worth sending to the Gardeners Chronicle or other paper, I have as you suggest added a few words—with a sentence or two which you did not suggest, but which I trust you will let stand. It is the simple truth as far as I am concerned and I often think we are not half grateful enough to those who have given us ideas, & above all who have given us something to do & to think of.5
You hit a weak place in the paper I sent you. Before I got your note Rothery & I had found it out—and the note I have added was written yesterday before yours was received. But I have not seen the hive bee do more than look at the front of the flower.6
I will certainly look at the Salvia. Is there any book or paper which puts these facts together. Surely—the Labiates—the Scropulareæ—and the Campanulaceæ—besides others offer a wide field for observation & for speculation.7 Is there any book about “dichogams”? Is C K Sprengel’s Endeckte Geheimniss worth my getting and reading?8 Is there any book about the habits of bees and other insects in sucking flowers?.
I am ashamed of my catechism—but you bring it on yourself
Believe me with sincere thanks | Very truly yours | T H Farrer
Charles Darwin Esq FRS
Encouraged by CD’s reply. Sends another paper, on blue Lobelia.
Asks advice on books.