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Darwin Correspondence Project

From L. A. Errera1   30 September 1877

6A, Rue Royale | Bruxelles

30 Sept. 1877

Monsieur

Je vous suis profondément reconnaissant d’avoir bien voulu accéder à ma demande, et cela malgré vos nombreuses occupations.2 Je viens de revenir à Bruxelles et je m’empresse de vous expédier, en même temps que cette lettre, la partie de notre manuscrit qui se rapporte au croisement de fleurs différentes du même pied. Ce fragment est, malheureusement, assez long; mais, lorsque nous nous permettons de soutenir un avis qui n’est pas celui du plus illustre naturaliste de notre époque, il est indispensable de discuter, un à un, ses divers arguments et de dire complétement tout ce que nous croyons favorable à notre manière de voir. Du reste j’ai, conformément à votre désir, marqué au crayon bleu les passages essentiels à soumettre à votre haute appréciation.—3

Comme la langue française ne se prête guère à la formation de mots composés, nous avons adopté une terminologie très analogue à celle de A. Kerner, c’est-à-dire que nous désignons par autogamie, la pollination d’une fleur par son propre pollen; par gitonogamie, la pollination par le pollen d’une autre fleur du même individu, et par xénogamie, le croisement d’individus différents. Ces deux dernières formes de pollination sont réunies sous le nom d’allogamie.—4 Quand une pollination est suivie de fécondation efficace, nous employons les mêmes mots, mais avec la terminaison …carpie, au lieu de …gamie: cela répond à la distinction que Hermann Müller et d’autres font entre “Bestäubung” et “Befruchtung”—5 Le mot adynamandre (de Delpino) est, comme vous le savez, synonyme de votre terme “self-sterile”.6

Elles sont, Monsieur, les indications qu’il n’était peut-être pas superflu de donner ici, afin de vous rendre, autant que je le puis, moins pénible la lecture du fragment manuscrit. Quand vous y aurez, à votre loisir, jeté les yeux, voudrez-vous avoir l’extrême bonté de me faire savoir si nous avons bien rendu votre opinion et si nos remarques vous semblent quelque peu fondées?

Tout conseil qu’il vous plaira de nous donner ou toute observation de votre part, nous seraient infiniment précieux.

Je vous suis très reconnaissant de m’avoir signalé votre beau livre “The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species.” Mais c’est un ouvrage trop important et trop interéssant, surtout pour ceux qui s’occupent de Botanique, pour que je ne me sois pas déjà hâté de l’étudier dès son apparition.7

Acceptez, je vous prie, Monsieur, l’expression de mon profond respect et de ma bien sincère gratitude. | Léo Errera

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Appendix I.
The manuscript has not been found; CD evidently returned it. In the published version, the section on pollination by pollen from another individual on the same plant (geitonogamy) is fourteen pages long (Errera and Gevaert 1878, pp. 68–81). The authors differed somewhat from CD’s view that a cross between two flowers on the same plant did ‘no good or very little good’ (Cross and self fertilisation, p. 444).
The terminology was coined by Anton Kerner von Marilaun; he mentioned that terms such as ‘Sichselbstbestäubung’ (self-pollination) should be avoided since they were vague and awkward (see Kerner von Marilaun 1876, p. 192 n.).
Müller had not made explicit the distinction between pollination (Bestäubung) and fertilisation (Befruchtung) in his work, but his usage indicates that the distinction was understood (see, for example, H. Müller 1873, p. 4).
Federico Delpino had coined the term adynamandry (adinamandri) for hermaphrodite flowers that were infertile with their own pollen (see Delpino 1876, p. 149).

Bibliography

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Delpino, Federico. 1876. Dicogamia ed omogamia nelle piante. Nuovo Giornale Botanico Italiano 8: 140–61.

Müller, Hermann. 1873. Die Befruchtung der Blumen durch Insekten und die gegenseitigen Anpassungen beider. Ein Beitrag zur Erkenntniss des ursächlichen Zusammenhanges in der organischen Natur. Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann.

Translation

From L. A. Errera1   30 September 1877

6A, Rue Royale | Brussels

30 Sept. 1877

Sir

I am deeply grateful to you for having accepted my request, and this in spite of your many occupations.2 I have just returned to Brussels and I hasten to send off, at the same time as this letter, the section of our manuscript that deals with the crossing of flowers on the same plant. This bit, sadly, is rather long; but, since we take the liberty of maintaining a view which is not that of the most illustrious naturalist of our age, it is essential to discuss, one by one, his various arguments and to say absolutely everything we believe in favour of our point of view. Furthermore, I have, as you asked, marked in blue pencil the crucial passages to be submitted to your high estimation.—3

Since the French language hardly lends itself to the formation of compound words, we have adopted terminology very similar to that of A. Kerner, that is to say that we mean by autogamy, the pollination of a flower by its own pollen; by gitonogamy, pollination by the pollen of another flower of the same individual, and by xenogamy, the crossing of different individuals. These two latter forms of pollination are included within the name allogamy.—4 When pollination is followed by effective fertilisation, we use the same words, but with the ending …carpy, instead of …gamy: this addresses the distinction that Hermann Müller and others make between “pollination” et “fertilisation”—5 The word adynamandry (of Delpino) is, as you know, synonymous with your term “self-sterile”.6

This is, sir, the information that it would perhaps not be superfluous to give here, in order to make less difficult, as far as I can, your reading of the manuscript section. When you have, at your leisure, had a look, would you be so kind as to let me know whether we have correctly given your position and whether our remarks seem to you somewhat justified?

Any advice you would like to give or any observation from you, would be extremely valuable.

I am very grateful to you for having alerted me to your great book “The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species.” But it is too important a work and too interesting, especially for those working in botany, for me not to have already hastened to study it after its appearance.7

I remain, sir, with sincere gratitude, most respectfully yours. | Léo Errera

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original French, see pp. QQQQ.
The manuscript has not been found; CD evidently returned it. In the published version, the section on pollination by pollen from another individual on the same plant (geitonogamy) is fourteen pages long (Errera and Gevaert 1878, pp. 68–81). The authors differed somewhat from CD’s view that a cross between two flowers on the same plant did ‘no good or very little good’ (Cross and self fertilisation, p. 444).
The terminology was coined by Anton Kerner von Marilaun; he mentioned that terms such as ‘Sichselbstbestäubung’ (self-pollination) should be avoided since they were vague and awkward (see Kerner von Marilaun 1876, p. 192 n.).
Müller had not made explicit the distinction between pollination (Bestäubung) and fertilisation (Befruchtung) in his work, but his usage indicates that the distinction was understood (see, for example, H. Müller 1873, p. 4).
Federico Delpino had coined the term adynamandry (adinamandri) for hermaphrodite flowers that were infertile with their own pollen (see Delpino 1876, p. 149).

Bibliography

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Delpino, Federico. 1876. Dicogamia ed omogamia nelle piante. Nuovo Giornale Botanico Italiano 8: 140–61.

Müller, Hermann. 1873. Die Befruchtung der Blumen durch Insekten und die gegenseitigen Anpassungen beider. Ein Beitrag zur Erkenntniss des ursächlichen Zusammenhanges in der organischen Natur. Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann.

Summary

Sending MS.

Used Anton Kerner’s nomenclature for designating crosses.

Thanks CD for Forms of flowers.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-11160
From
Léo Abram Errera
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Brussels
Source of text
DAR 163: 27
Physical description
4pp (French) & AdraftS 3pp (French)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11160,” accessed on 27 November 2020, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-11160.xml

letter