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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Farrer   19 September [1868]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Sep 19.

My dear Mr Farrer

Many thanks for your kind & pleasant note & for your preliminary remarks.2

When I came to consider the size of the paper as it now stands I felt convinced that it wd be too long for the Gard. Chron—& therefore I will send it off to the Annals & Mag. of Nat. Hist. with a note advising the editors to publish it.3

Of course the publication will depend on their amount of space & the interest which they may feel on the subject. If they cannot publish it, & I feel nearly surely they wd be glad to do so, I will ask them to return it to me; & thro’ me to you—

This Journal is published monthly & your paper could hardly appear until Nov 1. If published I will inform you. Your observations on Lobelia are quite correct & interesting. I remember surprizing Hooker many years ago with the case—4 Sprengel has published on Lobelia5

The best book for you is a small one of 90 pages entitled

Die Geschlechter-Vertheilung bei den Pflanzen—


Fried. Hildebrand

Leipzig 1867—6

I suspect that C. K. Sprengels Das Entdeckte Geheimniss 1793. is rare—but it is an excellent book.7 I hope your observations may be published as they well deserve to be. Had they been quite new I wd have sent them to the Linn. Society.

Believe me dear Mr Farrer | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. As the length of your paper might possibly interfere with its publication I will tell the editors that they may omit the preliminary remarks about me if they so wish


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from T. H. Farrer, 17 September 1868.
CD refers to the Gardeners’ Chronicle and the Annals and Magazine of Natural History.
Farrer 1868 included a section on the fertilisation of the common blue lobelia. In his letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker of 7 June [1860] (Correspondence vol. 8), CD had described his observations of several plants, including Lobelia, that suggested each flower could only receive pollen from another flower. CD had noted his own and Christian Konrad Sprengel’s observations of the contrivance in Lobelia fulgens (a synonym of L. cardinalis) in Origin, p. 98; see also p. 250. CD’s notes on Lobelia are in DAR 49: 85, 88, 88v. See also ML 2: 257–9.
See Sprengel 1793, p. 385–6. CD’s heavily annotated copy of Sprengel 1793 is in the Darwin Library–CUL; these two pages are annotated (see Marginalia 1: 774–85).
CD refers to Friedrich Hildebrand’s Die Geschlechter-Vertheilung bei den Pflanzen und das Gesetz der vermiedenen und unvortheilhaften stetigen Selbstbefruchtung (Sexual division in plants and the law of avoidance and disadvantage of perpetual self-fertilisation; Hildebrand 1867a).
See letter from T. H. Farrer, 17 September 1868 and n. 8. See also n. 5, above. For more on Sprengel 1793, see the letter to George Bentham, 1 May [1868] and n. 5.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Farrer, Thomas Henry. 1868. On the manner of fertilization of the scarlet runner and blue lobelia. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4th ser. 2: 255–63.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

ML: More letters of Charles Darwin: a record of his work in a series of hitherto unpublished letters. Edited by Francis Darwin and Albert Charles Seward. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1903.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Sprengel, Christian Konrad. 1793. Das entdeckte Geheimniss der Natur im Bau und in der Befruchtung der Blumen. Berlin: Friedrich Vieweg.


Will send THF’s paper [on scarlet runners] to Annals and Magazine of Natural History with a note recommending publication [see 6384].

Suggests books on Lobelia.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Sent from
Source of text
Linnean Society of London (LS Ms299/5)
Physical description
LS 5pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6379,” accessed on 9 February 2023,

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