From T. H. Farrer 13 October 1869
Abinger Hall, | Dorking.
13 Oct /69
My dear Mr Darwin
At Albury—near this,—there is house full of Tacsonias and Passifloras—1 All the Tacsonias are pendent, have no crown & very long styles and filaments— They never—so the gardener says—fertilize themselves—but are readily & constantly fertilized by him with each other and with the Passifloras— The Passifloras turn their flowers upwards, though themselves pendent: their styles & filaments are short: and they have a corona. And they fertilize themselves—i.e. they are fertilized without the gardeners help— This certainly looks as if in this country the bees could manage the Passiflora—but not the Tacsonia: and as if for the latter humming birds or big moths were needed—which can suck without alighting. The bees are as a fact very fond of Passiflora—and I think when raised on the Corona—easily reach anthers & stigma.
It is a funny notion that a humming birds tail should do the business for Tacsonia.2
Many thanks for your kind note.3 It has long seemed to me, in the business of my own shop, that claims to have originated any thing that is true or successful, are idle ignes fatui: things to be avoided & put aside as soon as possible—like patents.
Your books open up a new field. Old Sprengel is delightful— But where is it to end—and what is to become of Merchant Shipping Bills and Maritime Codes?4
I could not help revenging myself on Delpinos philosophy during a sleepless hour one night—and I inclose you the result. What a strange mental phenomenon, that an able man of science should think he he has saved any thing worth saving, by reserving one portion of plant life to the regions of the arbitrary & the unknown!5
Very sincerely yours | T H Farrer
The paper on “Martha” arrived quite safely.6
The Biological Teleologist.
Highest of living Creatures, Man,
Exhibits clearly “Will and Plan:
The animal can comprehend A purpose, and attain an end:
Whilst in its turn the humbler plant Can feel and satisfy a want—
And thus we find throughout the line
Freedom and Will and High Design—
But here we pause. No living Mind
Informs the mass that lies behind;
And Earth, and Air, and Sun and Sky,
Come—God knows how, and God knows why:
Brute Matter all: whilst we inherit,
With beast and plant, Free will and Spirit;
And carry on with noisy clatter
A ceaseless strife twixt Mind and Matter—
Strange Creed! For me, Creations Soul
Part seen, part guessed, informs the Whole.
On the fertilisation of Tacsonia and Passiflora.
Encloses a poem, "The Biological Teleologist", written after reading Delpino.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6935,” accessed on 13 February 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-6935