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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Thomas Henry Farrer   13 [May 1870]1

Down, Beckenham | Kent


My dear Mr Farrer

Enclosed a partial answer with hopes of further answer.—2 You had better sow seeds as soon as possible; but I fear they look squashed.— It is curious the turning up of flower; but I am afraid opposed to you.—3

I am endeavouring to persuade Mr. Bruce to have inserted in Census query whether in each household the parents are cousins: I am deeply convinced that this is an important subject: if you can influence any member of government, pray do so.4 Some few M.P.s will take up the question.—

I have given my reasons in a Chapt in 2d. Vol. of my Domestic animals.—5

Pray believe me | yours very sincerely | CDarwin

We were both truly grieved to hear of Mrs. Farrer’s6 most serious illness, though I hope she is now quite well again.


The month and year are established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to H. H. Vivian, 11 May [1870].
CD enclosed part of the letter from Fritz Müller, 16 February 1870. It is the only section of that letter that has been found.
Müller had enclosed seeds of wild plants of Passiflora and a dried flower of a species from his garden for Farrer with his letter of 16 February 1870. Earlier, Farrer had concluded that humming-birds would not be able to act as pollinators for Passiflora. He argued, ‘The inner coronas and the processes belonging to them admit the flexible proboscis of the bee or other insect to the nectary below, but would not admit the stiff beak of the humming bird.’ Farrer further argued that the pendant flowers, elastic processes and long tube in Tacsonia (a genus now subsumed within Passiflora) were better adapted for access by hummingbirds (see Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix IV, pp. 593–4).
CD refers to Henry Austin Bruce. See letter from H. H. Vivian, 10 May 1870 and n. 1, and letter to H. H. Vivian, 11 May [1870].
See Variation 2: 123–4.
Frances Farrer.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Encloses part of letter from Fritz Müller on Passiflora, with seeds.

Is endeavouring to have included in next census a question as to whether the parents in each household are cousins.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st Baron Farrer
Sent from
Source of text
Linnean Society of London (LS Ms 299/13)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7188,” accessed on 25 February 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18