To Frederick Currey 11 March 1871
Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.
Mar 11 1871
In accordance with the request of the Council I have carefully considered Mr Mansel Weale’s four papers.1
With respect to the one numbered 1791, I am of opinion that so much has been written on the fertilisation of Orchids, that no paper is worth publishing unless it contains much new matter. If the Council concurs in this judgment, it will suffice to print a few extracts relating to the contraction of the elastic caudicle of the pollinium when freed from the anther-case, & on the caudicle of another species being shortened by being permanently folded. I have marked with blue lines the few passages which seem to me worth publishing. The illustrations in this & the 3 following papers are not clear; they are not indispensable & would be expensive to engrave, so that I think they may be all omitted.2
The paper on Disperis (1792) is short & may be printed in extenso, as it describes the remarkable fact of two of the sepals being converted into nectaries, in addition to a nectariferous labellum. Other curious peculiarities are described. These facts are made intelligible, though the general structure of the flower is very difficult to understand; nor did I receive much aid from the illustrations.3
The paper on Disa macrantha (1793) is likewise short, & deserves publication in extenso; as it records a singular difference between allied species in requiring or not requiring the aid of insects for their fertilisation.4
I would suggest that papers 1792 & 1793 should be printed before the abstract of paper 1791.5
The first ten pages of paper 1794 on the Asclepiadæ may be greatly shortened by the omission of irrelevant matter: I have marked with blue lines the passages which deserve to be retained.6 At p. 10 a whole description seems worth giving. Of the remainder, about half may be printed, & the passages have been marked. I am bound to inform the Council that these parts seem worth publishing only for the sake of any one who should hereafter study the remarkable structure of the flowers in the plants of this group, in the manner already done to a large extent by Prof. Hildebrand & Sig Delpino.7 In this case, I do not doubt that the observations recorded on the actions of the insects in the native country of the plants would possess much interest.
I would venture to suggest, as a plan deserving consideration, that the Editor of the Journal shd append a foot-note to the above papers stating that there were illustrations preserved in the archives of the Society which might be consulted by any one who wished to make a special study of the subjects referred to.8
I beg leave to remain | Sir | your obedient servant | Ch. Darwin
P.S. The papers are returned registered by this post—
To the Secretary | Linnean Society
Gives his opinion on four papers by J. P. M. Weale.