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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Farrer   21 June [1871]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

June 21

My dear Mr Farrer

Many thanks. I shd. be an ungrateful dog if I were tired of Orchids, as I owe to them much enjoyment. Nevertheless I confess to an intense hatred for the Bee, Orchid for its anomalous perpetual self-fertilisation.—2

I was aware of wild Ducks sometimes breeding in Trees, as do some other species; but was not at all aware that it was due to compulsion.—3

I have not been well of late, & we are going for a week to London for chance of its doing me good.—4 A little later in summer, I hope that you will able to run down here for a day or two, & I will write again for the chance—5

Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from T. H. Farrer, 19 June 1871.
CD refers to Ophrys apifera, the bee orchid. See letter from T. H. Farrer, 19 June 1871 and n. 3.
CD was in London from 24 to 30 June 1871 (see CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
No record of a visit by Farrer to Down has been found. CD spent most of August 1871 at Haredene in Albury, Surrey.


Confesses to intense hatred of the bee [orchid] for its anomalous perpetual self-fertilisation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Sent from
Source of text
Trinity College Library, Cambridge (Cullum M411)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7828,” accessed on 19 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19