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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   12 August 1869

Abinger Hall, | Dorking.

12 Aug/69

My dear Mr Darwin

I will certainly under such encouragement try to work out the papilionaceous flowers when I return from a three weeks semi offical cruise in the Trinity House Steamer.1 I have a few notes.

Are you sure about the hairs in the Foxglove.2 I watched some large humble bees—who are very fond of them—and it seemed to me that the hairs on the under lip of the corolla served as an excellent foothold. The flower bends directly the bee alights, and he has quite a struggle to get perpendicularly up in which as it seemed to me he was much helped by the hairs under his feet. This may be fancy but I thought I saw it—

I feel pretty sure about the hairs on the style of Vicia & Lathyrus.3

But of all this more by & by.

I think I must when I come back run over for a day and ask you to shew me your crossing & covering up processes.

Fanny begs me to say that you are the last person she credits with savagery, & only wishes you were strong enough to come and enjoy a song4

Very truly yours | T H Farrer

Charles Darwin Esqr FRS


See letter from T. H. Farrer, 8 August 1869 and n. 4, and letter to T. H. Farrer, 10 August [1869]. Trinity House corporation in London was the official regulator of British shipping, its responsibilities including the erection and maintenance of lighthouses on the coasts of England and Wales (OED).
Farrer refers to Frances Farrer; see letter to T. H. Farrer, 10 August [1869].


OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Will work on papilionaceous flowers since CD encourages it. Discusses function of hairs in certain plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st Baron Farrer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Abinger Hall
Source of text
DAR 164: 54
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6861,” accessed on 25 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17