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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   9 October 1869

Abinger Hall, | Dorking.

9 Oct/69

My dear Mr Darwin

It may be worth your knowing, for the sake of future visitors, that the trains represented on the SER tables as continuous, are not so—but separate at Beckenham Junction: and do not wait for each other—so that one may have to wait & get on by later trains as I had yesterday. It did not signify to me, as there were later trains to Shere.1

I have glanced this morning at Delpinos books— they are charming— You should get them read to you— But his last book will save me the trouble of publishing.2 It contains very nearly all that I have in my paper and a great deal more— It has not the position of the flower: but the coherence of petals & stamens: function of filaments & brush on style: dusty and moist pollen are all there. He says however that where stamens are monadelphic there is no nectar in the flower anywhere. I dont think is so, as it is outside the tube in Anthyllis: on vexillum (I think) in Ulex: and I have seen bees poking their noses into vexillum in Ulex—Ononis—& Lupin.3

Can you tell me of any book which will give me (with pictures) the machinery of a bees collecting apparatus?

Can the meaning of the Corona in Passiflora be to bring the bee’s back as he struggles irregularly over it up and into efficient contact with anthers and style? If it were not there he would scarcely touch them.

I have been looking at Antirrhinum’s hairs. Is not the meaning of them that the lower lip with its hairs being pressed against the open anthers, the pollen gets shed upon the hairs. A bee comes in, and carries away this pollen—not on his back but on his belly: he goes to another flower and his belly deposits it on the hairs of that flower: when he leaves the second flower the lower lip springs up and its hairs deposit the pollen (which the bee has left) on the stigma of the second flower. Thus the bee carries the pollen but does not immediately fertilize the stigma. This explains too the continuance of the hairs down the corolla, since the bee in entering will spread the pollen all the way down and carry more away from the long line of hairs than if they were not so continued. It would be a good plant to try under a net, since it must get its own pollen.

I shall at once order one of Delpino’s books and send you back your copy.

How endless & fascinating these things are?

I must read Delpino carefully— Possibly a short notice of what he says with any little points that he has not, might be of use—only that I should feel it presumptuous to appear to criticize.4 Or if there were the opportunity and he would care to have it, I would send him what I have written, begging him to make use of it. He seems an admirable observer and describer.

In one of the books he assails you as a fatalist, and wanders into regions of free will & necessity, into which—human time being, as Huxley says, limited—I do not care to follow him.5

Sincerely yours | T H Farrer

Charles Darwin Esqr FRS

The Pocket book was in the parcel6


Farrer refers to the South East Railway, which had a station in Orpington. The line opened in 1868. The village of Shere is six miles west of Dorking.
Farrer evidently borrowed CD’s copies of articles by Federico Delpino. Delpino had sent CD two papers on dichogamy in 1867 (Delpino 1867a and 1867b; see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Federico Delpino, 5 September 1867 and n. 2). He also sent three works with his letter of 22 August 1869 (Delpino 1867c, 1868–9, 1869a). Farrer probably refers to the first part of Ulteriori osservazioni sulla dicogamia nel regno vegetale (Further observations on dichogamy in the vegetable kingdom; Delpino 1868–75) as Delpino’s ‘last book’.
Many species of Anthyllis bear stipular nectaries.
Farrer did not publish on Delpino’s works.
Farrer may refer to a passage in Delpino 1869a, translated in Delpino 1869b, pp. 407–8, where Delpino argued that pangenesis was a monistic theory and that monism denied liberty. Farrer also refers to Thomas Henry Huxley.
Farrer had evidently recently paid a visit to Down by train (see also letter from T. H. Farrer, 18 September 1869), and possibly left some belongings behind that had to be sent on by post.


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

Delpino, Federico. 1868–75. Ulteriori osservazioni sulla dicogamia nel regno vegetale. 2 parts. Milan: Giuseppe Bernardoni. [Originally published in Atti della Societa Italiana di Scienze Naturali Milano 11 (1868): 265–352; 12 (1869): 179–233; 13 (1870): 167–205; 17 (1874): 266–407.]


Federico Delpino’s book has very nearly all that THF has found and a great deal more.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st Baron Farrer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Abinger Hall
Source of text
DAR 164: 56
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6929,” accessed on 30 July 2021,

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