To T. H. Farrer 13 October 1
at Miss Woodington’s | The Common | Sevenoaks
My dear Mr Farrer
I must send you a line to say how extremely good your article appears to me to be.2 It is even better than I thought, & I remember thinking it very good.3 I am particularly glad of the excellent summary of evidence about the common pea, as it will do for me hereafter to quote.4
Nocturnal insects will not do.5 I suspect that the aboriginal parent had bluish flowers. I have seen several times Bees visiting common & Sweet peas, & yet vars., purposely grown close together, hardly ever intercross. This is a point which for years has half driven me mad, & I have discussed it in my Var. of Animals & Plants under Dom:.—6 I now suspect (& I wish I had strength to experimentise next Spring) that from changed climate both species are prematurely fertilised & therefore hardly ever cross. When artificially crossed by removal of own pollen in bud, the offspring are very vigorous.
Farewell,— I wish I could compel you to go on working at fertilisation instead of so insignificant a subject as the commerce of the country!7 You pay me a very pretty compliment at the beginning of your paper.8 | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin.
Have you read the very curious article on Instinct in the same Nature?9 That on parthenogenesis is also very good.—10 It is a wonderful number.—
THF’s article in Nature ["The fertilisation of a few papilionaceous flowers", 6 (1872): 478–80, 498–501] is extremely good.
Suspects he now has answer to why common peas and sweetpeas hardly ever intercross, a point which half drove CD mad for years.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8557,” accessed on 24 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8557