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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Wilhelm Behrens   11 October 1878


Octbr 11th. 1878.

To Dr. Charles Darwin

Dear Sir,

Having just returned from a journey I find your very kind letter, which I hasten to answer at once.1 I am highly pleased at the consenting remarks upon my: “Geschichte der Bestäubungstheorie,” especially as they are made by you who are the most competent judge, in our particular sphere of science.2 I had made it my task in that essay to point out the merits both of some dead and living botanists from a point of view as objective as possible, and your kind consent is the more satisfactory to me as my critical examination and the results of it differ from the opinions of most of our reasoners. I am very much obliged to you for your great kindness and beg to say, that whenever in time to come I shall produce any new scientific work of this kind, it will be my endeavour to follow your trace, though I know that I shall hardly be able to bring forth anything like you. I shall soon forward to you an ample essay on: “Die Nectarien der Blüthen. Anatomisch-physiologische Untersuchungen”, in which relying upon your theory of natural selection I shall try to illustrate the anatomical structure of the nectaries.3 I hope you will agree with me in this point too.

I remain Dear Sir | Your respectfull and | obliged | W. Behrens.


In his letter to Behrens of 29 August [1878], CD had discussed Beiträge zur Geschichte der Bestäubungstheorie (Contributions to the history of pollination theory; Behrens 1878), and praised Behrens’s analysis of the contributions of various reseachers.
Behrens’s study of the anatomy and physiology of flower nectaries was published in several parts in the journal Flora oder allgemeine botanische Zeitung between January and October 1879 (Behrens 1879). CD’s annotated offprint of the paper is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.


Behrens, Wilhelm Julius. 1878. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Bestäubungstheorie. Separatabdruck aus dem Programm der Königl. Gewerbeschule zu Elberfeld 1877–78. Elberfeld: A Martini & Grüttefien.

Behrens, Wilhelm Julius. 1879. Die Nectarien der Blüthen. Anatomisch-physiologische Untersuchungen. Flora oder allgemeine botanische Zeitung 62: 2–11, 17–27, 49–54, 81–90, 113–23, 145–53, 233–47, 305–14, 369–75, 433–57.


Thanks for CD’s remarks on and agreement with his paper on history of pollination theories [see 11678].

Will shortly send his essay on the anatomy of nectaries in flowers [see 12300].

Letter details

Letter no.
Georg Wilhelm Julius (Wilhelm) Behrens
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 123
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11723,” accessed on 26 September 2021,