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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   30 November 1868

3 Gl. Ters | R. P.

30 Nov/68

My dear Mr Darwin,

Again many thanks for your note.1 It points I think just in the direction I should like to go—if time & opportunity offer,—and they are very small—

When one has plenty of practical work to do the enjoyment is in the seeing and learning, rather than in any thought of discovering or imparting: and publication is not in my thoughts.2

But the seeing with ones eyes ever so small a fragment of Natures wonderful work gives a reality to books and the thoughts of others which reading and pictures never give. The difficulty is to select and abide by the selection: without at the same time unnaturally dividing the selected object from all that goes with it in reality— The brush on the style leads one to the shape of the style: the form &c of stamens: the character of pollen: the structure of an insect &c. All is correlated & what increases the interest increases the difficulty.— I heartily appreciate what you say about watching the action, & not only the structure. An hour on the heath among the gorse & heather, seemed to give life to many hours of the microscope.

Your son has very kindly forwarded me the French book— What a beautiful book it is & how admirably illustrated.3 I hope I shall return it in as good condition as it comes in.

Believe me | Sincerely yours | T H Farrer

C Darwin Esq | FRS


Farrer had recently published an article ‘On the manner of fertilization of the scarlet runner and blue lobelia’ (Farrer 1868). With his letter of 21 November 1868, Farrer had enclosed observations on the papilionaceous genus Chorizema, but these were not published.
George Howard Darwin had sent Farrer a copy of Le Maout and Decaisne 1868 (see letter to T. H. Farrer, 26 November 1868 and n. 3).


Thanks CD for advice to watch the action and not only the structure [of plants].

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer (1st Baron Farrer)
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Gloucester Terrace, 3
Source of text
DAR 164: 50
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6485,” accessed on 23 May 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16