But he was in advance of his age, and his discoveries were for a long time neglected. Since the appearance of my book on Orchids, many excellent works on the fertilisation of flowers, such as those by Hildebrand, Delpino, Axell and Hermann Muller, and numerous shorter papers, have been published. (1/3. Sir John Lubbock has given an interesting summary of the whole subject in his 'British Wild Flowers considered in relation to Insects' 1875. Hermann Muller's work 'Die Befruchtung der Blumen durch Insekten' 1873, contains an immense number of original observations and generalisations. It is, moreover, invaluable as a repertory with references to almost everything which has been published on the subject. His work differs from that of all others in specifying what kinds of insects, as far as known, visit the flowers of each species. He likewise enters on new ground, by showing not only that flowers are adapted for their own good to the visits of certain insects; but that the insects themselves are excellently adapted for procuring nectar or pollen from certain flowers. The value of H. Muller's work can hardly be over-estimated, and it is much to be desired that it should be translated into English. Severin Axell's work is written in Swedish, so that I have not been able to read it.) A list would occupy several pages, and this is not the proper place to give their titles, as we are not here concerned with the means, but with the results of cross-fertilisation. No one who feels interest in the mechanism by which nature effects her ends, can read these books and memoirs without the most lively interest.
From my own observations on plants, guided to a certain extent by the experience of the breeders of animals, I became convinced many years ago that it is a general law of nature that flowers are adapted to be crossed, at least occasionally, by pollen from a distinct plant. Sprengel at times foresaw this law, but only partially, for it does not appear that he was aware that there was any difference in power between pollen from the same plant and from a distinct plant. In the introduction to his book (page 4) he says, as the sexes are separated in so many flowers, and as so many other flowers are dichogamous, "it appears that nature has not willed that any one flower should be fertilised by its own pollen." Nevertheless, he was far from keeping this conclusion always before his mind, or he did not see its full importance, as may be perceived by anyone who will read his observations carefully; and he consequently mistook the meaning of various structures. But his discoveries are so numerous and his work so excellent, that he can well afford to bear a small amount of blame. A most capable judge, H. Muller, likewise says: "It is remarkable in how very many cases Sprengel rightly perceived that pollen is necessarily transported to the stigmas of other flowers of the same species by the insects which visit them, and yet did not imagine that this transportation was of any service to the plants themselves." (1/4. 'Die Befruchtung der Blumen' 1873 page 4. His words are: "Es ist merkwurdig, in wie zahlreichen Fallen Sprengel richtig erkannte, dass durch die Besuchenden Insekten der Bluthenstaub mit Nothwendigkeit auf die Narben anderer Bluthen derselben Art ubertragen wird, ohne auf die Vermuthung zu kommen, dass in dieser Wirkung der Nutzen des Insektenbesuches fur die Pflanzen selbst gesucht werden musse.")
Andrew Knight saw the truth much more clearly, for he remarks, "Nature intended that a sexual intercourse should take place between neighbouring plants of the same species." (1/5. 'Philosophical Transactions' 1799 page 202.) After alluding to the various means by which pollen is transported from flower to flower, as far as was then imperfectly known, he adds, "Nature has something more in view than that its own proper males would fecundate each blossom." In 1811 Kolreuter plainly hinted at the same law, as did afterwards another famous hybridiser of plants, Herbert. (1/6. Kolreuter 'Mem.