Part 2 out of 10
(10/2. The following passage is taken from the MS. copy of the
"Autobiography;" it was not published in the "Life and Letters" which
appeared in Mrs. Darwin's lifetime:--)
You all know your mother, and what a good mother she has ever been to all
of you. She has been my greatest blessing, and I can declare that in my
whole life I have never heard her utter one word I would rather have been
unsaid. She has never failed in kindest sympathy towards me, and has borne
with the utmost patience my frequent complaints of ill-health and
discomfort. I do not believe she has ever missed an opportunity of doing a
kind action to any one near her. I marvel at my good fortune that she, so
infinitely my superior in every single moral quality, consented to be my
wife. She has been my wise adviser and cheerful comforter throughout life,
which without her would have been during a very long period a miserable one
from ill-health. She has earned the love of every soul near her.
LETTER 11. C. LYELL TO C. DARWIN.
(11/1. Lyell started on his first visit to the United States in July,
1841, and was absent thirteen months. Darwin returned to London July 23rd,
1841, after a prolonged absence; he may, therefore, have missed seeing
Lyell. Assuming the date 1841 to be correct, it would seem that the plan
of living in the country was formed a year before it was actually carried
I have no doubt that your father did rightly in persuading you to stay [at
Shrewsbury], but we were much disappointed in not seeing you before our
start for a year's absence. I cannot tell you how often since your long
illness I have missed the friendly intercourse which we had so frequently
before, and on which I built more than ever after your marriage. It will
not happen easily that twice in one's life, even in the large world of
London, a congenial soul so occupied with precisely the same pursuits and
with an independence enabling him to pursue them will fall so nearly in my
way, and to have had it snatched from me with the prospect of your
residence somewhat far off is a privation I feel as a very great one. I
hope you will not, like Herschell, get far off from a railway.
LETTER 12. TO CATHERINE DARWIN.
(12/1. The following letter was written to his sister Catherine about two
months before Charles Darwin settled at Down:--)
Sunday [July 1842].
You must have been surprised at not having heard sooner about the house.
Emma and I only returned yesterday afternoon from sleeping there. I will
give you in detail, as my father would like, MY opinion on it--Emma's
slightly differs. Position:--about 1/4 of a mile from the small village of
Down in Kent--16 miles from St. Paul's--8 1/2 miles from station (with many
trains) which station is only 10 from London. This is bad, as the drive
from [i.e. on account of] the hills is long. I calculate we are two hours
going from London Bridge. Village about forty houses with old walnut trees
in the middle where stands an old flint church and the lanes meet.
Inhabitants very respectable--infant school--grown up people great
musicians--all touch their hats as in Wales and sit at their open doors in
the evening; no high road leads through the village. The little pot-house
where we slept is a grocer's shop, and the landlord is the carpenter--so
you may guess the style of the village. There are butcher and baker and
post-office. A carrier goes weekly to London and calls anywhere for
anything in London and takes anything anywhere. On the road [from London]
to the village, on a fine day the scenery is absolutely beautiful: from
close to our house the view is very distant and rather beautiful, but the
house being situated on a rather high tableland has somewhat of a desolate
air. There is a most beautiful old farm-house, with great thatched barns
and old stumps of oak trees, like that of Skelton, one field off. The
charm of the place to me is that almost every field is intersected (as alas
is ours) by one or more foot-paths. I never saw so many walks in any other
county. The country is extraordinarily rural and quiet with narrow lanes
and high hedges and hardly any ruts. It is really surprising to think
London is only 16 miles off. The house stands very badly, close to a tiny
lane and near another man's field. Our field is 15 acres and flat, looking
into flat-bottomed valleys on both sides, but no view from the drawing-
room, which faces due south, except on our flat field and bits of rather
ugly distant horizon. Close in front there are some old (very productive)
cherry trees, walnut trees, yew, Spanish chestnut, pear, old larch, Scotch
fir and silver fir and old mulberry trees, [which] make rather a pretty
group. They give the ground an old look, but from not flourishing much
they also give it rather a desolate look. There are quinces and medlars
and plums with plenty of fruit, and Morello cherries; but few apples. The
purple magnolia flowers against the house. There is a really fine beech in
view in our hedge. The kitchen garden is a detestable slip and the soil
looks wretched from the quantity of chalk flints, but I really believe it
is productive. The hedges grow well all round our field, and it is a noted
piece of hayland. This year the crop was bad, but was bought, as it stood,
for 2 pounds per acre--that is 30 pounds--the purchaser getting it in.
Last year it was sold for 45 pounds--no manure was put on in the interval.
Does not this sound well? Ask my father. Does the mulberry and magnolia
show it is not very cold in winter, which I fear is the case? Tell Susan
it is 9 miles from Knole Park and 6 from Westerham, at which places I hear
the scenery is beautiful. There are many very odd views round our house--
deepish flat-bottomed valley and nice farm-house, but big, white, ugly,
fallow fields;--much wheat grown here. House ugly, looks neither old nor
new--walls two feet thick--windows rather small--lower story rather low.
Capital study 18 x 18. Dining-room 21 x 18. Drawing-room can easily be
added to: is 21 x 15. Three stories, plenty of bedrooms. We could hold
the Hensleighs and you and Susan and Erasmus all together. House in good
repair. Mr. Cresy a few years ago laid out for the owner 1,500 pounds and
made a new roof. Water-pipes over house--two bath-rooms--pretty good
offices and good stable-yard, etc., and a cottage. I believe the price is
about 2,200 pounds, and I have no doubt I shall get it for one year on
lease first to try, so that I shall do nothing to the house at first (last
owner kept three cows, one horse, and one donkey, and sold some hay
annually from one field). I have no doubt if we complete the purchase I
shall at least save 1,000 pounds over Westcroft, or any other house we have
seen. Emma was at first a good deal disappointed, and at the country round
the house; the day was gloomy and cold with N.E. wind. She likes the
actual field and house better than I; the house is just situated as she
likes for retirement, not too near or too far from other houses, but she
thinks the country looks desolate. I think all chalk countries do, but I
am used to Cambridgeshire, which is ten times worse. Emma is rapidly
coming round. She was dreadfully bad with toothache and headache in the
evening and Friday, but in coming back yesterday she was so delighted with
the scenery for the first few miles from Down, that it has worked a great
change in her. We go there again the first fine day Emma is able, and we
then finally settle what to do.
(12/2. The following fragmentary "Account of Down" was found among Mr.
Darwin's papers after the publication of the "Life and Letters." It gives
the impression that he intended to write a natural history diary after the
manner of Gilbert White, but there is no evidence that this was actually
1843. May 15th.--The first peculiarity which strikes a stranger
unaccustomed to a hilly chalk country is the valleys, with their steep
rounded bottoms--not furrowed with the smallest rivulet. On the road to
Down from Keston a mound has been thrown across a considerable valley, but
even against this mound there is no appearance of even a small pool of
water having collected after the heaviest rains. The water all percolates
straight downwards. Ascertain average depth of wells, inclination of
strata, and springs. Does the water from this country crop out in springs
in Holmsdale or in the valley of the Thames? Examine the fine springs in
The valleys on this platform sloping northward, but exceedingly even,
generally run north and south; their sides near the summits generally
become suddenly more abrupt, and are fringed with narrow strips, or, as
they are here called, "shaws" of wood, sometimes merely by hedgerows run
wild. The sudden steepness may generally be perceived, as just before
ascending to Cudham Wood, and at Green Hill, where one of the lanes crosses
these valleys. These valleys are in all probability ancient sea-bays, and
I have sometimes speculated whether this sudden steepening of the sides
does not mark the edges of vertical cliffs formed when these valleys were
filled with sea-water, as would naturally happen in strata such as the
In most countries the roads and footpaths ascend along the bottoms of
valleys, but here this is scarcely ever the case. All the villages and
most of the ancient houses are on the platforms or narrow strips of flat
land between the parallel valleys. Is this owing to the summits having
existed from the most ancient times as open downs and the valleys having
been filled up with brushwood? I have no evidence of this, but it is
certain that most of the farmhouses on the flat land are very ancient.
There is one peculiarity which would help to determine the footpaths to run
along the summits instead of the bottom of the valleys, in that these
latter in the middle are generally covered, even far more thickly than the
general surface, with broken flints. This bed of flints, which gradually
thins away on each side, can be seen from a long distance in a newly
ploughed or fallow field as a whitish band. Every stone which ever rolls
after heavy rain or from the kick of an animal, ever so little, all tend to
the bottom of the valleys; but whether this is sufficient to account for
their number I have sometimes doubted, and have been inclined to apply to
the case Lyell's theory of solution by rain-water, etc., etc.
The flat summit-land is covered with a bed of stiff red clay, from a few
feet in thickness to as much, I believe, as twenty feet: this [bed],
though lying immediately on the chalk, and abounding with great,
irregularly shaped, unrolled flints, often with the colour and appearance
of huge bones, which were originally embedded in the chalk, contains not a
particle of carbonate of lime. This bed of red clay lies on a very
irregular surface, and often descends into deep round wells, the origin of
which has been explained by Lyell. In these cavities are patches of sand
like sea-sand, and like the sand which alternates with the great beds of
small pebbles derived from the wear-and-tear of chalk-flints, which form
Keston, Hayes and Addington Commons. Near Down a rounded chalk-flint is a
rarity, though some few do occur; and I have not yet seen a stone of
distant origin, which makes a difference--at least to geological eyes--in
the very aspect of the country, compared with all the northern counties.
The chalk-flints decay externally, which, according to Berzelius ("Edin.
New Phil. Journal," late number), is owing to the flints containing a small
proportion of alkali; but, besides this external decay, the whole body is
affected by exposure of a few years, so that they will not break with clean
faces for building.
This bed of red clay, which renders the country very slippery in the winter
months from October to April, does not cover the sides of the valleys;
these, when ploughed, show the white chalk, which tint shades away lower in
the valley, as insensibly as a colour laid on by a painter's brush.
Nearly all the land is ploughed, and is often left fallow, which gives the
country a naked red look, or not unfrequently white, from a covering of
chalk laid on by the farmers. Nobody seems at all aware on what principle
fresh chalk laid on land abounding with lime does it any good. This,
however, is said to have been the practice of the country ever since the
period of the Romans, and at present the many white pits on the hill sides,
which so frequently afford a picturesque contrast with the overhanging yew
trees, are all quarried for this purpose.
The number of different kinds of bushes in the hedgerows, entwined by
traveller's joy and the bryonies, is conspicuous compared with the hedges
of the northern counties.
March 25th [1844?].--The first period of vegetation, and the banks are
clothed with pale-blue violets to an extent I have never seen equalled, and
with primroses. A few days later some of the copses were beautifully
enlivened by Ranunculus auricomus, wood anemones, and a white Stellaria.
Again, subsequently, large areas were brilliantly blue with bluebells. The
flowers are here very beautiful, and the number of flowers; [and] the
darkness of the blue of the common little Polygala almost equals it to an
There are large tracts of woodland, [cut down] about once every ten years;
some of these enclosures seem to be very ancient. On the south side of
Cudham Wood a beech hedge has grown to Brobdignagian size, with several of
the huge branches crossing each other and firmly grafted together.
Larks abound here, and their songs sound most agreeably on all sides;
nightingales are common. Judging from an odd cooing note, something like
the purring of a cat, doves are very common in the woods.
June 25th.--The sainfoin fields are now of the most beautiful pink, and
from the number of hive-bees frequenting them the humming noise is quite
extraordinary. This humming is rather deeper than the humming overhead,
which has been continuous and loud during all these last hot days over
almost every field. The labourers here say it is made by "air-bees," and
one man, seeing a wild bee in a flower different from the hive kind,
remarked: "That, no doubt, is an air-bee." This noise is considered as a
sign of settled fair weather.
CHAPTER 1.II.--EVOLUTION, 1844-1858.
(Chapter II./1. Since the publication of the "Life and Letters," Mr.
Huxley's obituary notice of Charles Darwin has appeared. (Chapter II./2.
"Proc. R. Soc." volume 44, 1888, and "Collected Essays (Darwiniana)," page
253, 1899.) This masterly paper is, in our opinion, the finest of the
great series of Darwinian essays which we owe to Mr. Huxley. We would
venture to recommend it to our readers as the best possible introduction to
these pages. There is, however, one small point in which we differ from
Mr. Huxley. In discussing the growth of Mr. Darwin's evolutionary views,
Mr. Huxley quotes from the autobiography (Chapter II./3. "Life and
Letters," I., page 82. Some account of the origin of his evolutionary
views is given in a letter to Jenyns (Blomefield), "Life and Letters," II.
page 34.) a passage in which the writer describes the deep impression made
on his mind by certain groups of facts observed in South America. Mr.
Huxley goes on: "The facts to which reference is here made were, without
doubt, eminently fitted to attract the attention of a philosophical
thinker; but, until the relations of the existing with the extinct species,
and of the species of the different geographical areas with one another,
were determined with some exactness, they afforded but an unsafe foundation
for speculation. It was not possible that this determination should have
been effected before the return of the "Beagle" to England; and thus the
date (Chapter II./4. The date in question is July 1837, when he "opened
first note-book on Transmutation of Species.') which Darwin (writing in
1837) assigns to the dawn of the new light which was rising in his mind,
becomes intelligible." This seems to us inconsistent with Darwin's own
statement that it was especially the character of the "species on Galapagos
Archipelago" which had impressed him. (Chapter II./5. See "Life and
Letters," I., page 276.) This must refer to the zoological specimens: no
doubt he was thinking of the birds, but these he had himself collected in
1835 (Chapter II./6. He wrote in his "Journal," page 394, "My attention
was first thoroughly aroused, by comparing together the numerous specimens
shot by myself and several other parties on board," etc.), and no accurate
determination of the forms was necessary to impress on him the remarkable
characteristic species of the different islands. We agree with Mr. Huxley
that 1837 is the date of the "new light which was rising in his mind."
That the dawn did not come sooner seems to us to be accounted for by the
need of time to produce so great a revolution in his conceptions. We do
not see that Mr. Huxley's supposition as to the effect of the determination
of species, etc., has much weight. Mr. Huxley quotes a letter from Darwin
to Zacharias, "But I did not become convinced that species were mutable
until, I think, two or three years [after 1837] had elapsed" (see Letter
278). This passage, which it must be remembered was written in 1877, is
all but irreconcilable with the direct evidence of the 1837 note-book. A
series of passages are quoted from it in the "Life and Letters," Volume
II., pages 5 et seq., and these it is impossible to read without feeling
that he was convinced of immutability. He had not yet attained to a clear
idea of Natural Selection, and therefore his views may not have had, even
to himself, the irresistible convincing power they afterwards gained; but
that he was, in the ordinary sense of the word, convinced of the truth of
the doctrine of evolution we cannot doubt. He thought it "almost useless"
to try to prove the truth of evolution until the cause of change was
discovered. And it is natural that in later life he should have felt that
conviction was wanting till that cause was made out. (Chapter II./7. See
"Charles Darwin, his Life told, etc." 1892, page 165.) For the purposes of
the present chapter the point is not very material. We know that in 1842
he wrote the first sketch of his theory, and that it was greatly amplified
in 1844. So that, at the date of the first letters of this chapter, we
know that he had a working hypothesis of evolution which did not differ in
essentials from that given in the "Origin of Species."
To realise the amount of work that was in progress during the period
covered by Chapter II., it should be remembered that during part of the
time--namely, from 1846 to 1854--he was largely occupied by his work on the
Cirripedes. (Chapter II./8. "Life and Letters," I. page 346.) This
research would have fully occupied a less methodical workman, and even to
those who saw him at work it seemed his whole occupation. Thus (to quote a
story of Lord Avebury's) one of Mr. Darwin's children is said to have
asked, in regard to a neighbour, "Then where does he do his barnacles?" as
though not merely his father, but all other men, must be occupied on that
Sir Joseph Hooker, to whom the first letter in this chapter is addressed,
was good enough to supply a note on the origin of his intimacy with Mr.
Darwin, and this is published in the "Life and Letters." (Chapter II./9.
Ibid., II., page 19. See also "Nature," 1899, June 22nd, page 187, where
some reminiscences are published, which formed part of Sir Joseph's speech
at the unveiling of Darwin's statue in the Oxford Museum.) The close
intercourse that sprang up between them was largely carried on by
correspondence, and Mr. Darwin's letters to Sir Joseph have supplied most
valuable biographical material. But it should not be forgotten that, quite
apart from this, science owes much to this memorable friendship, since
without Hooker's aid Darwin's great work would hardly have been carried out
on the botanical side. And Sir Joseph did far more than supply knowledge
and guidance in technical matters: Darwin owed to him a sympathetic and
inspiriting comradeship which cheered and refreshed him to the end of his
A sentence from a letter to Hooker written in 1845 shows, quite as well as
more serious utterances, how quickly the acquaintance grew into friendship.
"Farewell! What a good thing is community of tastes! I feel as if I had
known you for fifty years. Adios." And in illustration of the permanence
of the sympathetic bond between them, we quote a letter of 1881 written
forty-two years after the first meeting with Sir Joseph in Trafalgar Square
(see "Life and Letters," II., page 19). Mr. Darwin wrote: "Your letter
has cheered me, and the world does not look a quarter so black this morning
as it did when I wrote before. Your friendly words are worth their weight
LETTER 13. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, Thursday [January 11th, 1844].
My dear Sir
I must write to thank you for your last letter, and to tell you how much
all your views and facts interest me. I must be allowed to put my own
interpretation on what you say of "not being a good arranger of extended
views"--which is, that you do not indulge in the loose speculations so
easily started by every smatterer and wandering collector. I look at a
strong tendency to generalise as an entire evil.
What you say of Mr. Brown is humiliating; I had suspected it, but would not
allow myself to believe in such heresy. Fitz-Roy gave him a rap in his
preface (13/1. In the preface to the "Surveying Voyages of the 'Adventure'
and the 'Beagle,' 1826-30, forming Volume I of the work, which includes the
later voyage of the "Beagle," Captain Fitz-Roy wrote (March, 1839):
"Captain King took great pains in forming and preserving a botanical
collection, aided by a person embarked solely for that purpose. He placed
this collection in the British Museum, and was led to expect that a first-
rate botanist would have examined and described it; but he has been
disappointed." A reference to Robert Brown's dilatoriness over King's
collection occurs in the "Life and Letters," I., page 274, note.), and made
him very indignant, but it seems a much harder one would not have been
wasted. My cryptogamic collection was sent to Berkeley; it was not large.
I do not believe he has yet published an account, but he wrote to me some
year ago that he had described [the specimens] and mislaid all his
descriptions. Would it not be well for you to put yourself in
communication with him, as otherwise something will perhaps be twice
laboured over? My best (though poor) collection of the cryptogams was from
the Chonos Islands.
Would you kindly observe one little fact for me, whether any species of
plant, peculiar to any island, as Galapagos, St. Helena, or New Zealand,
where there are no large quadrupeds, have hooked seeds--such hooks as, if
observed here, would be thought with justness to be adapted to catch into
wool of animals.
Would you further oblige me some time by informing me (though I forget this
will certainly appear in your "Antarctic Flora") whether in islands like
St. Helena, Galapagos, and New Zealand, the number of families and genera
are large compared with the number of species, as happens in coral islands,
and as, I believe, in the extreme Arctic land. Certainly this is the case
with marine shells in extreme Arctic seas. Do you suppose the fewness of
species in proportion to number of large groups in coral islets is owing to
the chance of seeds from all orders getting drifted to such new spots, as I
have supposed. Did you collect sea-shells in Kerguelen-land? I should
like to know their character.
Your interesting letters tempt me to be very unreasonable in asking you
questions; but you must not give yourself any trouble about them, for I
know how fully and worthily you are employed. (13/2. The rest of the
letter has been previously published in "Life and Letters," II., page 23.)
Besides a general interest about the southern lands, I have been now ever
since my return engaged in a very presumptuous work, and I know no one
individual who would not say a very foolish one. I was so struck with the
distribution of the Galapagos organisms, etc., and with the character of
the American fossil mammifers, etc., that I determined to collect blindly
every sort of fact which could bear any way on what are species. I have
read heaps of agricultural and horticultural books, and have never ceased
collecting facts. At last gleams of light have come, and I am almost
convinced (quite contrary to the opinion I started with) that species are
not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable. Heaven forfend me from
Lamarck nonsense of a "tendency to progression," "adaptations from the slow
willing of animals," etc.! But the conclusions I am led to are not widely
different from his; though the means of change are wholly so. I think I
have found out (here's presumption!) the simple way by which species become
exquisitely adapted to various ends. You will now groan, and think to
yourself, "on what a man have I been wasting my time and writing to." I
should, five years ago, have thought so...(13/3. On the questions here
dealt with see the interesting letter to Jenyns in the "Life and Letters,"
II., page 34.)
LETTER 14. TO J.D. HOOKER.
...What a curious, wonderful case is that of the Lycopodium! (14/1. Sir
J.D. Hooker wrote, November 8, 1844: "I am firmly convinced (but not
enough to print it) that L. Selago varies in Van Diemen's Land into L.
varium. Two more different SPECIES (as they have hitherto been thought),
per se cannot be conceived, but nowhere else do they vary into one another,
nor does Selago vary at all in England.")...I suppose you would hardly have
expected them to be more varying than a phanerogamic plant. I trust you
will work the case out, and, even if unsupported, publish it, for you can
surely do this with due caution. I have heard of some analogous facts,
though on the smallest scale, in certain insects being more variable in one
district than in another, and I think the same holds with some land-shells.
By a strange chance I had noted to ask you in this letter an analogous
question, with respect to genera, in lieu of individual species,--that is,
whether you know of any case of a genus with most of its species being
variable (say Rubus) in one continent, having another set of species in
another continent non-variable, or not in so marked a manner. Mr. Herbert
(14/2. No doubt Dean Herbert, the horticulturist. See "Life and Letters,"
I., page 343.) incidentally mentioned in a letter to me that the heaths at
the Cape of Good Hope were very variable, whilst in Europe they are (?) not
so; but then the species here are few in comparison, so that the case, even
if true, is not a good one. In some genera of insects the variability
appears to be common in distant parts of the world. In shells, I hope
hereafter to get much light on this question through fossils. If you can
help me, I should be very much obliged: indeed, all your letters are most
useful to me.
MONDAY:--Now for your first long letter, and to me quite as interesting as
long. Several things are quite new to me in it--viz., for one, your belief
that there are more extra-tropical than intra-tropical species. I see that
my argument from the Arctic regions is false, and I should not have tried
to argue against you, had I not fancied that you thought that equability of
climate was the direct cause of the creation of a greater or lesser number
of species. I see you call our climate equable; I should have thought it
was the contrary. Anyhow, the term is vague, and in England will depend
upon whether a person compares it with the United States or Tierra del
Fuego. In my Journal (page 342) I see I state that in South Chiloe, at a
height of about 1,000 feet, the forests had a Fuegian aspect: I distinctly
recollect that at the sea-level in the middle of Chiloe the forest had
almost a tropical aspect. I should like much to hear, if you make out,
whether the N. or S. boundaries of a plant are the most restricted; I
should have expected that the S. would be, in the temperate regions, from
the number of antagonist species being greater. N.B. Humboldt, when in
London, told me of some river (14/3. The Obi (see "Flora Antarctica," page
211, note). Hooker writes: "Some of the most conspicuous trees attain
either of its banks, but do not cross them.") in N.E. Europe, on the
opposite banks of which the flora was, on the same soil and under same
climate, widely different!
I forget (14/4. The last paragraph is published in "Life and Letters,"
II., page 29.) my last letter, but it must have been a very silly one, as
it seems I gave my notion of the number of species being in great degree
governed by the degree to which the area had been often isolated and
divided. I must have been cracked to have written it, for I have no
evidence, without a person be willing to admit all my views, and then it
(14/5. The remainder of the foregoing letter is published in the "Life and
Letters," II., page 29. It is interesting as giving his views on the
mutability of species. Thus he wrote: "With respect to books on this
subject, I do not know any systematical ones, except Lamarck's, which is
veritable rubbish; but there are plenty, as Lyell, Pritchard, etc., on the
view of the immutability." By "Pritchard" is no doubt intended James
Cowles "Prichard," author of the "Physical History of Mankind." Prof.
Poulton has given in his paper, "A remarkable Anticipation of Modern Views
on Evolution" (14/6. "Science Progress," Volume I., April 1897, page
278.), an interesting study of Prichard's work. He shows that Prichard was
in advance of his day in his views on the non-transmission of acquired
characters. Prof. Poulton also tries to show that Prichard was an
evolutionist. He allows that Prichard wrote with hesitation, and that in
the later editions of his book his views became weaker. But, even with
these qualifications, we think that Poulton has unintentionally exaggerated
the degree to which Prichard believed in evolution.
One of Prichard's strongest sentences is quoted by Poulton (loc. cit., page
16); it occurs in the "Physical History of Mankind," Ed. 2, Volume II.,
"Is it not probable that the varieties which spring up within the limits of
particular species are further adaptations of structure to the
circumstances under which the tribe is destined to exist? Varieties branch
out from the common form of a species, just as the forms of species deviate
from the common type of a genus. Why should the one class of phenomena be
without end or utility, a mere effect of contingency or chance, more than
If this passage, and others similar to it, stood alone, we might agree with
Prof. Poulton; but this is impossible when we find in Volume I. of the same
edition, page 90, the following uncompromising statement of immutability:--
"The meaning attached to the term species, in natural history, is very
simple and obvious. It includes only one circumstance--namely, an original
distinctness and constant transmission of any character. A race of
animals, or plants, marked by any peculiarities of structure which have
always been constant and undeviating, constitutes a species."
On page 91, in speaking of the idea that the species which make up a genus
may have descended from a common form, he says:--
"There must, indeed, be some principle on which the phenomena of
resemblance, as well as those of diversity, may be explained; and the
reference of several forms to a common type seems calculated to suggest the
idea of some original affinity; but, as this is merely a conjecture, it
must be kept out of sight when our inquiries respect matters of fact only."
This view is again given in Volume II., page 569, where he asks whether we
should believe that "at the first production of a genus, when it first grew
into existence, some slight modification in the productive causes stamped
it originally with all these specific diversities? Or is it most probable
that the modification was subsequent to its origin, and that the genus at
its first creation was one and uniform, and afterwards became diversified
by the influence of external agents?" He concludes that "the former of
these suppositions is the conclusion to which we are led by all that can be
ascertained respecting the limits of species, and the extent of variation
under the influence of causes at present existing and operating."
In spite of the fact that Prichard did not carry his ideas to their logical
conclusion, it may perhaps excite surprise that Mr. Darwin should have
spoken of him as absolutely on the side of immutability.
We believe it to be partly accounted for (as Poulton suggests) by the fact
that Mr. Darwin possessed only the third edition (1836 and 1837) and the
fourth edition (1841-51). (14/7. The edition of 1841-51 consists of
reprints of the third edition and three additional volumes of various
dates. Volumes I. and II. are described in the title-page as the fourth
edition; Volumes III. and IV. as the third edition, and Volume V. has no
edition marked in the title.) In neither of these is the evolutionary
point of view so strong as in the second edition.
We have gone through all the passages marked by Mr. Darwin for future
reference in the third and fourth editions, and have been only able to find
the following, which occurs in the third edition (Volume I., 1836, page
242) (14/8. There is also (ed. 1837, Volume II., page 344) a vague
reference to Natural Selection, of which the last sentence is enclosed in
pencil in inverted commas, as though Mr. Darwin had intended to quote it:
"In other parts of Africa the xanthous variety [of man] often appears, but
does not multiply. Individuals thus characterised are like seeds which
perish in an uncongenial soil.")
"The variety in form, prevalent among all organised productions of nature,
is found to subsist between individual beings of whatever species, even
when they are offspring of the same parents. Another circumstance equally
remarkable is the tendency which exists in almost every tribe, whether of
animals or of plants, to transmit to their offspring and to perpetuate in
their race all individual peculiarities which may thus have taken their
rise. These two general facts in the economy of organised beings lay a
foundation for the existence of diversified races, originating from the
same primitive stock and within the limits of identical species."
On the following page (page 243) a passage (not marked by Mr. Darwin)
emphasises the limitation which Prichard ascribed to the results of
variation and inheritance:--
"Even those physiologists who contend for what is termed the indefinite
nature of species admit that they have limits at present and under ordinary
circumstances. Whatever diversities take place happen without breaking in
upon the characteristic type of the species. This is transmitted from
generation to generation: goats produce goats, and sheep, sheep."
The passage on page 242 occurs in the reprint of the 1836-7 edition which
forms part of the 1841-51 edition, but is not there marked by Mr. Darwin.
He notes at the end of Volume I. of the 1836-7 edition: "March, 1857. I
have not looked through all these [i.e. marked passages], but I have gone
through the later edition"; and a similar entry is in Volume II. of the
third edition. It is therefore easy to understand how he came to overlook
the passage on page 242 when he began the fuller statement of his species
theory which is referred to in the "Life and Letters" as the "unfinished
book." In the historical sketch prefixed to the "Origin of Species"
writers are named as precursors whose claims are less strong than
Prichard's, and it is certain that Mr. Darwin would have given an account
of him if he had thought of him as an evolutionist.
The two following passages will show that Mr. Darwin was, from his
knowledge of Prichard's books, justified in classing him among those who
did not believe in the mutability of species:
"The various tribes of organised beings were originally placed by the
Creator in certain regions, for which they are by their nature peculiarly
adapted. Each species had only one beginning in a single stock: probably
a single pair, as Linnaeus supposed, was first called into being in some
particular spot, and the progeny left to disperse themselves to as great a
distance from the original centre of their existence as the locomotive
powers bestowed on them, or their capability of bearing changes of climate
and other physical agencies, may have enabled them to wander." (14/9.
Prichard, third edition, 1836-7, Volume I., page 96.)
The second passage is annotated by Mr. Darwin with a shower of exclamation
"The meaning attached to the term SPECIES in natural history is very
definite and intelligible. It includes only the following conditions--
namely, separate origin and distinctness of race, evinced by the constant
transmission of some characteristic peculiarity of organisation. A race of
animals or of plants marked by any peculiar character which has always been
constant and undeviating constitutes a species; and two races are
considered as specifically different, if they are distinguished from each
other by some characteristic which one cannot be supposed to have acquired,
or the other to have lost through any known operation of physical causes;
for we are hence led to conclude that the tribes thus distinguished have
not descended from the same original stock." (14/10. Prichard, ed. 1836-
7, Volume I., page 106. This passage is almost identical with that quoted
from the second edition, Volume I., page 90. The latter part, from "and
two races...," occurs in the second edition, though not quoted above.)
As was his custom, Mr. Darwin pinned at the end of the first volume of the
1841-51 edition a piece of paper containing a list of the pages where
marked passages occur. This paper bears, written in pencil, "How like my
book all this will be!" The words appear to refer to Prichard's discussion
on the dispersal of animals and plants; they certainly do not refer to the
evolutionary views to be found in the book.)
LETTER 15. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Thank you exceedingly for your long letter, and I am in truth ashamed of
the time and trouble you have taken for me; but I must some day write again
to you on the subject of your letter. I will only now observe that you
have extended my remark on the range of species of shells into the range of
genera or groups. Analogy from shells would only go so far, that if two or
three species...were found to range from America to India, they would be
found to extend through an unusual thickness of strata--say from the Upper
Cretaceous to its lowest bed, or the Neocomian. Or you may reverse it and
say those species which range throughout the whole Cretaceous, will have
wide ranges: viz., from America through Europe to India (this is one
actual case with shells in the Cretaceous period).
LETTER 16. TO J.D. HOOKER.
I ought to have written sooner to say that I am very willing to subscribe 1
pound 1 shilling to the African man (though it be murder on a small scale),
and will send you a Post-office-order payable to Kew, if you will be so
good as to take charge of it. Thanks for your information about the
Antarctic Zoology; I got my numbers when in Town on Thursday: would it be
asking your publisher to take too much trouble to send your Botany ["Flora
Antarctica," by J.D. Hooker, 1844] to the Athenaeum Club? he might send two
or three numbers together. I am really ashamed to think of your having
given me such a valuable work; all I can say is that I appreciate your
present in two ways--as your gift, and for its great use to my species-
work. I am very glad to hear that you mean to attack this subject some
day. I wonder whether we shall ever be public combatants; anyhow, I
congratulate myself in a most unfair advantage of you, viz., in having
extracted more facts and views from you than from any one other person. I
daresay your explanation of polymorphism on volcanic islands may be the
right one; the reason I am curious about it is, the fact of the birds on
the Galapagos being in several instances very fine-run species--that is, in
comparing them, not so much one with another, as with their analogues from
the continent. I have somehow felt, like you, that an alpine form of a
plant is not a true variety; and yet I cannot admit that the simple fact of
the cause being assignable ought to prevent its being called a variety;
every variation must have some cause, so that the difference would rest on
our knowledge in being able or not to assign the cause. Do you consider
that a true variety should be produced by causes acting through the parent?
But even taking this definition, are you sure that alpine forms are not
inherited from one, two, or three generations? Now, would not this be a
curious and valuable experiment (16/1. For an account of work of this
character, see papers by G. Bonnier in the "Revue Generale," Volume II.,
1890; "Ann. Sc. Nat." Volume XX.; "Revue Generale," Volume VII.), viz., to
get seeds of some alpine plant, a little more hairy, etc., etc., than its
lowland fellow, and raise seedlings at Kew: if this has not been done,
could you not get it done? Have you anybody in Scotland from whom you
could get the seeds?
I have been interested by your remarks on Senecia and Gnaphalium: would it
not be worth while (I should be very curious to hear the result) to make a
short list of the generally considered variable or polymorphous genera, as
Rosa, Salix, Rubus, etc., etc., and reflect whether such genera are
generally mundane, and more especially whether they have distinct or
identical (or closely allied) species in their different and distant
Don't forget me, if you ever stumble on cases of the same species being
MORE or LESS variable in different countries.
With respect to the word "sterile" as used for male or polleniferous
flowers, it has always offended my ears dreadfully; on the same principle
that it would to hear a potent stallion, ram or bull called sterile,
because they did not bear, as well as beget, young.
With respect to your geological-map suggestion, I wish with all my heart
I could follow it; but just reflect on the number of measurements
requisite; why, at present it could not be done even in England, even
with the assumption of the land having simply risen any exact number of
feet. But subsidence in most cases has hopelessly complexed the
problem: see what Jordanhill-Smith (16/2. James Smith, of Jordan Hill,
author of a paper "On the Geology of Gibraltar" ("Quart. Journ. Geol.
Soc." Volume II., page 41, 1846).) says of the dance up and down, many
times, which Gibraltar has had all within the recent period. Such maps
as Lyell (16/3. "Principles of Geology," 1875, Volume I., Plate I, page
254.) has published of sea and land at the beginning of the Tertiary
period must be excessively inaccurate: it assumes that every part on
which Tertiary beds have not been deposited, must have then been dry
land,--a most doubtful assumption.
I have been amused by Chambers v. Hooker on the K. Cabbage. I see in the
"Explanations" (the spirit of which, though not the facts, ought to shame
Sedgwick) that "Vestiges" considers all land-animals and plants to have
passed from marine forms; so Chambers is quite in accordance. Did you hear
Forbes, when here, giving the rather curious evidence (from a similarity in
error) that Chambers must be the author of the "Vestiges": your case
strikes me as some confirmation. I have written an unreasonably long and
dull letter, so farewell. (16/4. "Explanations: A Sequel to the Vestiges
of the Natural History of Creation" was published in 1845, after the
appearance of the fourth edition of the "Vestiges," by way of reply to the
criticisms on the original book. The "K. cabbage" referred to at the
beginning of the paragraph is Pringlea antiscorbutica," the "Kerguelen
Cabbage" described by Sir J.D. Hooker in his "Flora Antarctica." What
Chambers wrote on this subject we have not discovered. The mention of
Sedgwick is a reference to his severe review of the "Vestiges" in the
"Edinburgh Review," 1845, volume 82, page 1. Darwin described it as
savouring "of the dogmatism of the pulpit" ("Life and Letters," I., page
344). Mr. Ireland's edition of the "Vestiges" (1844), in which Robert
Chambers was first authentically announced as the author, contains (page
xxix) an extract from a letter written by Chambers in 1860, in which the
following passage occurs, "The April number of the 'Edinburgh Review"'
(1860) makes all but a direct amende for the abuse it poured upon my work a
number of years ago." This is the well-known review by Owen, to which
references occur in the "Life and Letters," II., page 300. The amende to
the "Vestiges" is not so full as the author felt it to be; but it was
clearly in place in a paper intended to belittle the "Origin"; it also gave
the reviewer (page 511) an opportunity for a hit at Sedgwick and his 1845
LETTER 17. TO L. BLOMEFIELD [JENYNS].
Down. February 14th .
I have taken my leisure in thanking you for your last letter and
discussion, to me very interesting, on the increase of species. Since your
letter, I have met with a very similar view in Richardson, who states that
the young are driven away by the old into unfavourable districts, and there
mostly perish. When one meets with such unexpected statistical returns on
the increase and decrease and proportion of deaths and births amongst
mankind, and in this well-known country of ours, one ought not to be in the
least surprised at one's ignorance, when, where, and how the endless
increase of our robins and sparrows is checked.
Thanks for your hints about terms of "mutation," etc.; I had some
suspicions that it was not quite correct, and yet I do not see my way to
arrive at any better terms. It will be years before I publish, so that I
shall have plenty of time to think of better words. Development would
perhaps do, only it is applied to the changes of an individual during its
growth. I am, however, very glad of your remark, and will ponder over it.
We are all well, wife and children three, and as flourishing as this
horrid, house-confining, tempestuous weather permits.
LETTER 18. TO J.D. HOOKER.
I hope you are getting on well with your lectures, and that you have
enjoyed some pleasant walks during the late delightful weather. I write to
tell you (as perhaps you might have had fears on the subject) that your
books have arrived safely. I am exceedingly obliged to you for them, and
will take great care of them; they will take me some time to read
I send to-day the corrected MS. of the first number of my "Journal" (18/1.
In 1842 he had written to his sister: "Talking of money, I reaped the
other day all the profit which I shall ever get from my "Journal" ["Journal
of Researches, etc."] which consisted in paying Mr. Colburn 21 pounds 10
shillings for the copies which I presented to different people; 1,337
copies have been sold. This is a comfortable arrangement, is it not?" He
was proved wrong in his gloomy prophecy, as the second edition was
published by Mr. Murray in 1845.) in the Colonial Library, so that if you
chance to know of any gross mistake in the first 214 pages (if you have my
"Journal"), I should be obliged to you to tell me.
Do not answer this for form's sake; for you must be very busy. We have
just had the Lyells here, and you ought to have a wife to stop your working
too much, as Mrs. Lyell peremptorily stops Lyell.
LETTER 19. TO J.D. HOOKER.
(19/1. Sir J.D. Hooker's letters to Mr. Darwin seem to fix the date as
1845, while the reference to Forbes' paper indicates 1846.)
I am particularly obliged for your facts about solitary islands having
several species of peculiar genera; it knocks on the head some analogies of
mine; the point stupidly never occurred to me to ask about. I am amused at
your anathemas against variation and co.; whatever you may be pleased to
say, you will never be content with simple species, "as they are." I defy
you to steel your mind to technicalities, like so many of our brother
naturalists. I am much pleased that I thought of sending you Forbes'
article. (19/2. E. Forbes' celebrated paper "Memoirs of the Geological
Survey of Great Britain," Volume I., page 336, 1846. In Lyell's
"Principles," 7th Edition, 1847, page 676, he makes a temperate claim of
priority, as he had already done in a private letter of October 14th, 1846,
to Forbes ("Life of Sir Charles Lyell," 1881, Volume II., page 106) both as
regards the Sicilian flora and the barrier effect of mountain-chains. See
Letter 20 for a note on Forbes.) I confess I cannot make out the evidence
of his time-notions in distribution, and I cannot help suspecting that they
are rather vague. Lyell preceded Forbes in one class of speculation of
this kind: for instance, in his explaining the identity of the Sicily
Flora with that of South Italy, by its having been wholly upraised within
the recent period; and, so I believe, with mountain-chains separating
floras. I do not remember Humboldt's fact about the heath regions. Very
curious the case of the broom; I can tell you something analogous on a
small scale. My father, when he built his house, sowed many broom-seeds on
a wild bank, which did not come up, owing, as it was thought, to much earth
having been thrown over them. About thirty-five years afterwards, in
cutting a terrace, all this earth was thrown up, and now the bank is one
mass of broom. I see we were in some degree talking to cross-purposes;
when I said I did [not] much believe in hybridising to any extent, I did
not mean at all to exclude crossing. It has long been a hobby of mine to
see in how many flowers such crossing is probable; it was, I believe,
Knight's view, originally, that every plant must be occasionally crossed.
(19/3. See an article on "The Knight-Darwin law" by Francis Darwin in
"Nature," October 27th, 1898, page 630.) I find, however, plenty of
difficulty in showing even a vague probability of this; especially in the
Leguminosae, though their [structure?] is inimitably adapted to favour
crossing, I have never yet met with but one instance of a NATURAL MONGREL
(nor mule?) in this family.
I shall be particularly curious to hear some account of the appearance and
origin of the Ayrshire Irish Yew. And now for the main object of my
letter: it is to ask whether you would just run your eye over the proof of
my Galapagos chapter (19/4. In the second edition of the "Naturalist's
Voyage."), where I mention the plants, to see that I have made no blunders,
or spelt any of the scientific names wrongly. As I daresay you will so far
oblige me, will you let me know a few days before, when you leave Edinburgh
and how long you stay at Kinnordy, so that my letter might catch you. I am
not surprised at my collection from James Island differing from others, as
the damp upland district (where I slept two nights) is six miles from the
coast, and no naturalist except myself probably ever ascended to it.
Cuming had never even heard of it. Cuming tells me that he was on Charles,
James, and Albemarle Islands, and that he cannot remember from my
description the Scalesia, but thinks he could if he saw a specimen. I have
no idea of the origin of the distribution of the Galapagos shells, about
which you ask. I presume (after Forbes' excellent remarks on the
facilities by which embryo-shells are transported) that the Pacific shells
have been borne thither by currents; but the currents all run the other
(PLATE: EDWARD FORBES 1844? From a photograph by Hill & Adamson.)
LETTER 20. EDWARD FORBES TO C. DARWIN.
(20/1. Edward Forbes was at work on his celebrated paper in the
"Geological Survey Memoirs" for 1846. We have not seen the letter of
Darwin's to which this is a reply, nor, indeed, any of his letters to
Forbes. The date of the letter is fixed by Forbes's lecture given at the
Royal Institution on February 27th, 1846 (according to L. Horner's
privately printed "Memoirs," II., page 94.))
Wednesday. 3, Southwark Street, Hyde Park. .
To answer your very welcome letter, so far from being a waste of time, is a
gain, for it obliges me to make myself clear and understood on matters
which I have evidently put forward imperfectly and with obscurity. I have
devoted the whole of this week to working and writing out the flora
question, for I now feel strong enough to give my promised evening lecture
on it at the Royal Institution on Friday, and, moreover, wish to get it in
printable form for the Reports of our Survey. Therefore at no time can I
receive or answer objections with more benefit than now. From the hurry
and pressure which unfortunately attend all my movements and doings I
rarely have time to spare, in preparing for publication, to do more than
give brief and unsatisfactory abstracts, which I fear are often extremely
Now for your objections--which have sprung out of my own obscurities.
I do not argue in a circle about the Irish case, but treat the botanical
evidence of connection and the geological as distinct. The former only I
urged at Cambridge; the latter I have not yet publicly maintained.
My Cambridge argument (20/2. "On the Distribution of Endemic Plants," by
E. Forbes, "Brit. Assoc. Rep." 1845 (Cambridge), page 67.) was this: That
no known currents, whether of water or air, or ordinary means of transport
(20/3. Darwin's note on transportation (found with Forbes' letter):
"Forbes' arguments, from several Spanish plants in Ireland not being
transported, not sound, because sea-currents and air ditto and migration of
birds in SAME LINES. I have thought not-transportation the greatest
difficulty. Now we see how many seeds every plant and tree requires to be
regularly propagated in its own country, for we cannot think the great
number of seeds superfluous, and therefore how small is the chance of here
and there a solitary seedling being preserved in a well-stocked country."),
would account for the little group of Asturian plants--few as to species,
but playing a conspicuous part in the vegetation--giving a peculiar
botanical character to the south of Ireland; that, as I had produced
evidence of the other floras of our islands, i.e. the Germanic, the
Cretaceous, and the Devonian (these terms used topographically, not
geologically) having been acquired by migration over continuous land (the
glacial or alpine flora I except for the present--as ice-carriage might
have played a great part in its introduction)--I considered it most
probable, and maintained, that the introduction of that Irish flora was
also effected by the same means. I held also that the character of this
flora was more southern and more ancient than that of any of the others,
and that its fragmentary and limited state was probably due to the plants
composing it having (from their comparative hardiness--heaths, saxifrages,
etc.) survived the destroying influence of the glacial epoch.
My geological argument now is as follows: half the Mediterranean islands,
or more, are partly--in some cases (as Malta) wholly--composed of the
upheaved bed of the Miocene sea; so is a great part of the south of France
from Bordeaux to Montpellier; so is the west of Portugal; and we find the
corresponding beds with the same fossils (Pecten latissimus, etc.) in the
Azores. So general an upheaval seems to me to indicate the former
existence of a great post-Miocene land [in] the region of what is usually
called the Mediterranean flora. (Everywhere these Miocene islands, etc.,
bear a flora of true type.) If this land existed, it did not extend to
America, for the fossils of the Miocene of America are representative and
not identical. Where, then, was the edge or coast-line of it, Atlantic-
wards? Look at the form and constancy of the great fucus-bank, and
consider that it is a Sargassum bank, and that the Sargassum there is in an
abnormal condition, and that the species of this genus of fuci are
essentially ground-growers, and then see the probability of this bank
having originated on a line of ancient coast.
Now, having thus argued independently, first on my flora and second on the
geological evidences of land in the quarter required, I put the two
together to bear up my Irish case.
I cannot admit the Sargassum case to be parallel with that of Confervae or
I think I have evidence from the fossils of the boulder formations in
Ireland that if such Miocene land existed it must have been broken up or
partially broken up at the epoch of the glacial or boulder period.
All objections thankfully received.
Ever most sincerely,
LETTER 21. TO L. JENYNS (BLOMEFIELD).
I am much obliged for your note and kind intended present of your volume.
(21/1. No doubt the late Mr. Blomefield's "Observations in Natural
History." See "Life and Letters," II., page 31.) I feel sure I shall like
it, for all discussions and observations on what the world would call
trifling points in Natural History always appear to me very interesting.
In such foreign periodicals as I have seen, there are no such papers as
White, or Waterton, or some few other naturalists in Loudon's and
Charlesworth's Journal, would have written; and a great loss it has always
appeared to me. I should have much liked to have met you in London, but I
cannot leave home, as my wife is recovering from a rather sharp fever
attack, and I am myself slaving to finish my S. American Geology (21/2.
"Geological Observations in South America" (London), 1846.), of which,
thanks to all Plutonic powers, two-thirds are through the press, and then I
shall feel a comparatively free man. Have you any thoughts of Southampton?
(21/3. The British Association met at Southampton in 1846.) I have some
vague idea of going there, and should much enjoy meeting you.
LETTER 22. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Shrewsbury [end of February 1846].
I came here on account of my father's health, which has been sadly failing
of late, but to my great joy he has got surprisingly better...I had not
heard of your botanical appointment (22/1. Sir Joseph was appointed
Botanist to the Geological Survey in 1846.), and am very glad of it, more
especially as it will make you travel and give you change of work and
relaxation. Will you some time have to examine the Chalk and its junction
with London Clay and Greensand? If so our house would be a good central
place, and my horse would be at your disposal. Could you not spin a long
week out of this examination? it would in truth delight us, and you could
bring your papers (like Lyell) and work at odd times. Forbes has been
writing to me about his subsidence doctrines; I wish I had heard his full
details, but I have expressed to him in my ignorance my objections, which
rest merely on its too great hypothetical basis; I shall be curious, when I
meet him, to hear what he says. He is also speculating on the gulf-weed.
I confess I cannot appreciate his reasoning about his Miocene continent,
but I daresay it is from want of knowledge.
You allude to the Sicily flora not being peculiar, and this being caused by
its recent elevation (well established) in the main part: you will find
Lyell has put forward this very clearly and well. The Apennines (which I
was somewhere lately reading about) seems a very curious case.
I think Forbes ought to allude a little to Lyell's (22/2. See Letter 19.)
work on nearly the same subject as his speculations; not that I mean that
Forbes wishes to take the smallest credit from him or any man alive; no
man, as far as I see, likes so much to give credit to others, or more soars
above the petty craving for self-celebrity.
If you come to any more conclusions about polymorphism, I should be very
glad to hear the result: it is delightful to have many points fermenting
in one's brain, and your letters and conclusions always give one plenty of
this same fermentation. I wish I could even make any return for all your
facts, views, and suggestions.
LETTER 23. TO J.D. HOOKER.
(23/1. The following extract gives the germ of what developed into an
interesting discussion in the "Origin" (Edition I., page 147). Darwin
wrote, "I suspect also that some cases of compensation which have been
advanced and likewise some other facts, may be merged under a more general
principle: namely, that natural selection is continually trying to
economise in every part of the organism." He speaks of the general belief
of botanists in compensation, but does not quote any instances.)
Have you ever thought of G. St. Hilaire's "loi de balancement" (23/2.
According to Darwin ("Variation of Animals and Plants," 2nd edition, II.,
page 335) the law of balancement was propounded by Goethe and Geoffroy
Saint-Hilaire (1772-1844) nearly at the same time, but he gives no
reference to the works of these authors. It appears, however, from his son
Isidore's "Vie, Travaux etc., d'Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire," Paris
1847, page 214, that the law was given in his "Philosophie Anatomique," of
which the first part was published in 1818. Darwin (ibid.) gives some
instances of the law holding good in plants.), as applied to plants? I am
well aware that some zoologists quite reject it, but it certainly appears
to me that it often holds good with animals. You are no doubt aware of the
kind of facts I refer to, such as great development of canines in the
carnivora apparently causing a diminution--a compensation or balancement--
in the small size of premolars, etc. I have incidentally noticed some
analogous remarks on plants, but have never seen it discussed by botanists.
Can you think of cases in any one species in genus, or genus in family,
with certain parts extra developed, and some adjoining parts reduced? In
varieties of the same species double flowers and large fruits seem
something of this--want of pollen and of seeds balancing with the increased
number of petals and development of fruit. I hope we shall see you here
(24/1. In this year (1847) Darwin wrote a short review of Waterhouse's
"Natural History of the Mammalia," of which the first volume had appeared.
It was published in "The Annals and Magazine of Natural History," Volume
XIX., page 53. The following sentence is the only one which shows even a
trace of evolution: "whether we view classification as a mere contrivance
to convey much information in a single word, or as something more than a
memoria technica, and as connected with the laws of creation, we cannot
doubt that where such important differences in the generative and cerebral
systems, as distinguish the Marsupiata from the Placentata, run through two
series of animals, they ought to be arranged under heads of equal value."
A characteristic remark occurs in reference to Geographical Distribution,
"that noble subject of which we as yet but dimly see the full bearing."
The following letter seems to be of sufficient interest to be published in
spite of the obscurities caused by the want of date. It seems to have been
written after 1847, in which year a dispute involving Dr. King and several
"arctic gentlemen" was carried on in the "Athenaeum." Mr. Darwin speaks of
"Natural History Instructions for the present expedition." This may
possibly refer to the "Admiralty Manual of Scientific Enquiry" (1849), for
it is clear, from the prefatory memorandum of the Lords of the Admiralty,
that they believed the manual would be of use in the forthcoming
expeditions in search of Sir John Franklin.)
LETTER 24. TO E. CRESY.
(24/2. Mr. Cresy was, we believe, an architect: his friendship with Mr.
Darwin dates from the settlement at Down.)
Down [after 1847].
Although I have never particularly attended to the points in dispute
between Dr. (Richard) King and the other Arctic gentlemen, yet I have
carefully read all the articles in the "Athenaeum," and took from them
much the same impression as you convey in your letter, for which I thank
you. I believe that old sinner, Sir J. Barrow (24/3. Sir John Barrow,
(1764-1848): Secretary to the Admiralty. has been at the bottom of all
the money wasted over the naval expeditions. So strongly have I felt on
this subject, that, when I was appointed on a committee for Nat. Hist.
instructions for the present expedition, had I been able to attend I had
resolved to express my opinion on the little advantage, comparatively to
the expense, gained by them. There have been, I believe, from the
beginning eighteen expeditions; this strikes me as monstrous,
considering how little is known, for instance, on the interior of
Australia. The country has paid dear for Sir John's hobbyhorse. I have
very little doubt that Dr. King is quite right in the advantage of land
expeditions as far as geography is concerned; and that is now the chief
object. (24/4. This sentence would imply that Darwin thought it
hopeless to rescue Sir J. Franklin's expedition. If so, the letter must
be, at least, as late as 1850. If the eighteen expeditions mentioned
above are "search expeditions," it would also bring the date of the
letter to 1850.)
LETTER 25. TO RICHARD OWEN.
Down [March 26th, 1848].
My dear Owen
I do not know whether your MS. instructions are sent in; but even if they
are not sent in, I daresay what I am going to write will be absolutely
superfluous (25/1. The results of Mr. Darwin's experience given in the
above letter were embodied by Prof. Owen in the section "On the Use of the
Microscope on Board Ship," forming part of the article "Zoology" in the
"Manual of Scientific Enquiry, Prepared for the Use of Her Majesty's Navy"
(London, 1849).), but I have derived such infinitely great advantage from
my new simple microscope, in comparison with the one which I used on board
the "Beagle," and which was recommended to me by R. Brown ("Life and
Letters," I., page 145.), that I cannot forego the mere chance of advantage
of urging this on you. The leading point of difference consists simply in
having the stage for saucers very large and fixed. Mine will hold a saucer
three inches in inside diameter. I have never seen such a microscope as
mine, though Chevalier's (from whose plan many points of mine are taken),
of Paris, approaches it pretty closely. I fully appreciate the utter
ABSURDITY of my giving you advice about means of dissecting; but I have
appreciated myself the enormous disadvantage of having worked with a bad
instrument, though thought a few years since the best. Please to observe
that without you call especial attention to this point, those ignorant of
Natural History will be sure to get one of the fiddling instruments sold in
shops. If you thought fit, I would point out the differences, which, from
my experience, make a useful microscope for the kind of dissection of the
invertebrates which a person would be likely to attempt on board a vessel.
But pray again believe that I feel the absurdity of this letter, and I
write merely from the chance of yourself, possessing great skill and having
worked with good instruments, [not being] possibly fully aware what an
astonishing difference the kind of microscope makes for those who have not
been trained in skill for dissection under water. When next I come to town
(I was prevented last time by illness) I must call on you, and report, for
my own satisfaction, a really (I think) curious point I have made out in my
beloved barnacles. You cannot tell how much I enjoyed my talk with you
Ever, my dear Owen,
P.S.--If I do not hear, I shall understand that my letter is superfluous.
Smith and Beck were so pleased with the simple microscope they made for me,
that they have made another as a model. If you are consulted by any young
naturalists, do recommend them to look at this. I really feel quite a
personal gratitude to this form of microscope, and quite a hatred to my old
LETTER 26. TO J.S. HENSLOW.
Down [April 1st, 1848.]
Thank you for your note and giving me a chance of seeing you in town; but
it was out of my power to take advantage of it, for I had previously
arranged to go up to London on Monday. I should have much enjoyed seeing
you. Thanks also for your address (26/1. An introductory lecture
delivered in March 1848 at the first meeting of a Society "for giving
instructions to the working classes in Ipswich in various branches of
science, and more especially in natural history" ("Memoir of the Rev. J.S.
Henslow," by Leonard Jenyns, page 150.), which I like very much. The
anecdote about Whewell and the tides I had utterly forgotten; I believe it
is near enough to the truth. I rather demur to one sentence of yours--
viz., "However delightful any scientific pursuit may be, yet, if it should
be wholly unapplied, it is of no more use than building castles in the
air." Would not your hearers infer from this that the practical use of
each scientific discovery ought to be immediate and obvious to make it
worthy of admiration? What a beautiful instance chloroform is of a
discovery made from purely scientific researches, afterwards coming almost
by chance into practical use! For myself I would, however, take higher
ground, for I believe there exists, and I feel within me, an instinct for
truth, or knowledge or discovery, of something of the same nature as the
instinct of virtue, and that our having such an instinct is reason enough
for scientific researches without any practical results ever ensuing from
them. You will wonder what makes me run on so, but I have been working
very hard for the last eighteen months on the anatomy, etc., of the
Cirripedia (on which I shall publish a monograph), and some of my friends
laugh at me, and I fear the study of the Cirripedia will ever remain
"wholly unapplied," and yet I feel that such study is better than castle-
LETTER 27. TO J.D. HOOKER,
at Dr. Falconer's, Botanic Garden, Calcutta.
Down, May 10th, 1848.
I was indeed delighted to see your handwriting; but I felt almost sorry
when I beheld how long a letter you had written. I know that you are
indomitable in work, but remember how precious your time is, and do not
waste it on your friends, however much pleasure you may give them. Such a
letter would have cost me half-a-day's work. How capitally you seem going
on! I do envy you the sight of all the glorious vegetation. I am much
pleased and surprised that you have been able to observe so much in the
animal world. No doubt you keep a journal, and an excellent one it will
be, I am sure, when published. All these animal facts will tell capitally
in it. I can quite comprehend the difficulty you mention about not knowing
what is known zoologically in India; but facts observed, as you will
observe them, are none the worse for reiterating. Did you see Mr. Blyth in
Calcutta? He would be a capital man to tell you what is known about Indian
Zoology, at least in the Vertebrata. He is a very clever, odd, wild
fellow, who will never do what he could do, from not sticking to any one
subject. By the way, if you should see him at any time, try not to forget
to remember me very kindly to him; I liked all I saw of him. Your letter
was the very one to charm me, with all its facts for my Species-book, and
truly obliged I am for so kind a remembrance of me. Do not forget to make
enquiries about the origin, even if only traditionally known, of any
varieties of domestic quadrupeds, birds, silkworms, etc. Are there
domestic bees? if so hives ought to be brought home. Of all the facts you
mention, that of the wild [illegible], when breeding with the domestic,
producing offspring somewhat sterile, is the most surprising: surely they
must be different species. Most zoologists would absolutely disbelieve
such a statement, and consider the result as a proof that they were
distinct species. I do not go so far as that, but the case seems highly
improbable. Blyth has studied the Indian Ruminantia. I have been much
struck about what you say of lowland plants ascending mountains, but the
alpine not descending. How I do hope you will get up some mountains in
Borneo; how curious the result will be! By the way, I never heard from you
what affinity the Maldive flora has, which is cruel, as you tempted me by
making me guess. I sometimes groan over your Indian journey, when I think
over all your locked up riches. When shall I see a memoir on Insular
floras, and on the Pacific? What a grand subject Alpine floras of the
world (27/1. Mr. William Botting Hemsley, F.R.S., of the Royal Gardens,
Kew, is now engaged on a monograph of the high-level Alpine plants of the
world.) would be, as far as known; and then you have never given a coup
d'oeil on the similarity and dissimilarity of Arctic and Antarctic floras.
Well, thank heavens, when you do come back you will be nolens volens a
fixture. I am particularly glad you have been at the Coal; I have often
since you went gone on maundering on the subject, and I shall never rest
easy in Down churchyard without the problem be solved by some one before I
die. Talking of dying makes me tell you that my confounded stomach is much
the same; indeed, of late has been rather worse, but for the last year, I
think, I have been able to do more work. I have done nothing besides the
barnacles, except, indeed, a little theoretical paper on erratic boulders
(27/2. "On the Transportal of Erratic Boulders from a Lower to a Higher
Level" ("Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc." Volume IV., pages 315-23. 1848). In
this paper Darwin favours the view that the transport of boulders was
effected by coast-ice. An earlier paper entitled "Notes on the Effects
produced by the ancient Glaciers of Caernarvonshire, and on the Boulders
transported by floating Ice" ("Phil. Mag." 1842, page 352) is spoken of by
Sir Archibald Geikie as standing "almost at the top of the long list of
English contributions to the history of the Ice Age" ("Charles Darwin,"
"Nature" Series, page 23).), and Scientific Geological Instructions for the
Admiralty Volume (27/3. "A manual of Scientific Enquiry, prepared for the
use of Her Majesty's Navy, and adapted for Travellers in General." Edited
by Sir John F.W. Herschel, Bart. Section VI.--Geology--by Charles Darwin.
London, 1849. See "Life and Letters," pages 328-9.), which cost me some
trouble. This work, which is edited by Sir J. Herschel, is a very good
job, inasmuch as the captains of men-of-war will now see that the Admiralty
cares for science, and so will favour naturalists on board. As for a man
who is not scientific by nature, I do not believe instructions will do him
any good; and if he be scientific and good for anything the instructions
will be superfluous. I do not know who does the Botany; Owen does the
Zoology, and I have sent him an account of my new simple microscope, which
I consider perfect, even better than yours by Chevalier. N.B. I have got a
1/8 inch object-glass, and it is grand. I have been getting on well with
my beloved Cirripedia, and get more skilful in dissection. I have worked
out the nervous system pretty well in several genera, and made out their
ears and nostrils (27/4. For the olfactory sacs see Darwin's "Monograph of
the Cirripedia," 1851, page 52.), which were quite unknown. I have lately
got a bisexual cirripede, the male being microscopically small and
parasitic within the sack of the female. I tell you this to boast of my
species theory, for the nearest closely allied genus to it is, as usual,
hermaphrodite, but I had observed some minute parasites adhering to it, and
these parasites I now can show are supplemental males, the male organs in
the hermaphrodite being unusually small, though perfect and containing
zoosperms: so we have almost a polygamous animal, simple females alone
being wanting. I never should have made this out, had not my species
theory convinced me, that an hermaphrodite species must pass into a
bisexual species by insensibly small stages; and here we have it, for the
male organs in the hermaphrodite are beginning to fail, and independent
males ready formed. But I can hardly explain what I mean, and you will
perhaps wish my barnacles and species theory al Diavolo together. But I
don't care what you say, my species theory is all gospel. We have had only
one party here: viz., of the Lyells, Forbes, Owen, and Ramsay, and we both
missed you and Falconer very much...I know more of your history than you
will suppose, for Miss Henslow most good-naturedly sent me a packet of your
letters, and she wrote me so nice a little note that it made me quite
proud. I have not heard of anything in the scientific line which would
interest you. Sir H. De la Beche (27/5. The Presidential Address
delivered by De la Beche before the Geological Society in 1848 ("Quart.
Journ. Geol. Soc." Volume IV., "Proceedings," page xxi, 1848).) gave a very
long and rather dull address; the most interesting part was from Sir J.
Ross. Mr. Beete Jukes figured in it very prominently: it really is a very
nice quality in Sir Henry, the manner in which he pushes forward his
subordinates. Jukes has since read what was considered a very valuable
paper. The man, not content with moustaches, now sports an entire beard,
and I am sure thinks himself like Jupiter tonans. There was a short time
since a not very creditable discussion at a meeting of the Royal Society,
where Owen fell foul of Mantell with fury and contempt about belemnites.
What wretched doings come from the order of fame; the love of truth alone
would never make one man attack another bitterly. My paper is full, so I
must wish you with all my heart farewell. Heaven grant that your health
may keep good.
LETTER 28. TO J.S. HENSLOW.
The Lodge, Malvern, May 6th, 1849.
Your kind note has been forwarded to me here. You will be surprised to
hear that we all--children, servants, and all--have been here for nearly
two months. All last autumn and winter my health grew worse and worse:
incessant sickness, tremulous hands, and swimming head. I thought I was
going the way of all flesh. Having heard of much success in some cases
from the cold-water cure, I determined to give up all attempts to do
anything and come here and put myself under Dr. Gully. It has answered to
a considerable extent: my sickness much checked and considerable strength
gained. Dr. G., moreover (and I hear he rarely speaks confidently), tells
me he has little doubt but that he can cure me in the course of time--time,
however, it will take. I have experienced enough to feel sure that the
cold-water cure is a great and powerful agent and upsetter of all
constitutional habits. Talking of habits, the cruel wretch has made me
leave off snuff--that chief solace of life. We thank you most sincerely
for your prompt and early invitation to Hitcham for the British Association
for 1850 (28/1. The invitation was probably not for 1850, but for 1851,
when the Association met at Ipswich.): if I am made well and strong, most
gladly will I accept it; but as I have been hitherto, a drive every day of
half a dozen miles would be more than I could stand with attending any of
the sections. I intend going to Birmingham (28/2. The Association met at
Birmingham in 1849.) if able; indeed, I am bound to attempt it, for I am
honoured beyond all measure in being one of the Vice-Presidents. I am
uncommonly glad you will be there; I fear, however, we shall not have any
such charming trips as Nuneham and Dropmore. (28/3. In a letter to Hooker
(October 12th, 1849) Darwin speaks of "that heavenly day at Dropmore."
("Life and Letters," I., page 379.)) We shall stay here till at least June
1st, perhaps till July 1st; and I shall have to go on with the aqueous
treatment at home for several more months. One most singular effect of the
treatment is that it induces in most people, and eminently in my case, the
most complete stagnation of mind. I have ceased to think even of
barnacles! I heard some time since from Hooker...How capitally he seems to
have succeeded in all his enterprises! You must be very busy now. I
happened to be thinking the other day over the Gamlingay trip to the Lilies
of the Valley (28/4. The Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) is
recorded from Gamlingay by Professor Babington in his "Flora of
Cambridgeshire," page 234. (London, 1860.)): ah, those were delightful
days when one had no such organ as a stomach, only a mouth and the
masticating appurtenances. I am very much surprised at what you say, that
men are beginning to work in earnest [at] Botany. What a loss it will be
for Natural History that you have ceased to reside all the year in
LETTER 29. TO J.F. ROYLE.
Down, September 1st [184-?].
I return you with very many thanks your valuable work. I am sure I have
not lost any slip or disarranged the loose numbers. I have been interested
by looking through the volumes, though I have not found quite so much as I
had thought possible about the varieties of the Indian domestic animals and
plants, and the attempts at introduction have been too recent for the
effects (if any) of climate to have been developed. I have, however, been
astonished and delighted at the evidence of the energetic attempts to do
good by such numbers of people, and most of them evidently not personally
interested in the result. Long may our rule flourish in India. I declare
all the labour shown in these transactions is enough by itself to make one
proud of one's countrymen...
LETTER 30. TO HUGH STRICKLAND.
(30/1. The first paragraph of this letter is published in the "Life and
Letters," I., page 372, as part of a series of letters to Strickland,
beginning at page 365, where a biographical note by Professor Newton is
also given. Professor Newton wrote: "In 1841 he brought the subject of
Natural History Nomenclature before the British Association, and prepared
the code of rules for Zoological Nomenclature, now known by his name--the
principles of which are very generally accepted." Mr. Darwin's reasons
against appending the describer's name to that of the species are given in
"Life and Letters," page 366. The present letter is of interest as giving
additional details in regard to Darwin's difficulties.)
Down, February 10th .
I have again to thank you cordially for your letter. Your remarks shall
fructify to some extent, and I will try to be more faithful to rigid virtue
and priority; but as for calling Balanus "Lepas" (which I did not think of)
I cannot do it, my pen won't write it--it is impossible. I have great
hopes some of my difficulties will disappear, owing to wrong dates in
Agassiz and to my having to run several genera into one; for I have as yet
gone, in but few cases, to original sources. With respect to adopting my
own notions in my Cirripedia book, I should not like to do so without I
found others approved, and in some public way; nor indeed is it well
adapted, as I can never recognise a species without I have the original
specimen, which fortunately I have in many cases in the British Museum.
Thus far I mean to adopt my notion, in never putting mihi or Darwin after
my own species, and in the anatomical text giving no authors' names at all,
as the systematic part will serve for those who want to know the history of
the species as far as I can imperfectly work it out.
I have had a note from W. Thompson (30/2. Mr. Thompson is described in the
preface to the Lepadidae as "the distinguished Natural Historian of
Ireland.") this morning, and he tells me Ogleby has some scheme identical
almost with mine. I feel pretty sure there is a growing general aversion
to the appendage of author's name, except in cases where necessary. Now at
this moment I have seen specimens ticketed with a specific name and no
reference--such are hopelessly inconvenient; but I declare I would rather
(as saving time) have a reference to some second systematic work than to
the original author, for I have cases of this which hardly help me at all,
for I know not where to look amongst endless periodical foreign papers. On
the other hand, one can get hold of most systematic works and so follow up
the scent, and a species does not long lie buried exclusively in a paper.
I thank you sincerely for your very kind offer of occasionally assisting me
with your opinion, and I will not trespass much. I have a case, but [it is
one] about which I am almost sure; and so to save you writing, if I
conclude rightly, pray do not answer, and I shall understand silence as
Olfers in 1814 made Lepas aurita Linn. into the genus Conchoderma; [Oken]
in 1815 gave the name Branta to Lepas aurita and vittata, and by so doing
he alters essentially Olfers' generic definition. Oken was right (as it
turns out), and Lepas aurita and vittata must form together one genus.
(30/3. In the "Monograph on the Cirripedia" (Lepadidae) the names used are
Conchoderma aurita and virgata.) (I leave out of question a multitude of
subsequent synonyms.) Now I suppose I must retain Conchoderma of Olfers.
I cannot make out a precise rule in the "British Association Report" for
this. When a genus is cut into two I see that the old name is retained for
part and altered to it; so I suppose the definition may be enlarged to
receive another species--though the cases are somewhat different. I should
have had no doubt if Lepas aurita and vittata had been made into two
genera, for then when run together the oldest of the two would have been
retained. Certainly to put Conchoderma Olfers is not quite correct when
applied to the two species, for such was not Olfers' definition and
opinion. If I do not hear, I shall retain Conchoderma for the two
P.S.--Will you by silence give consent to the following?
Linnaeus gives no type to his genus Lepas, though L. balanus comes first.
Several oldish authors have used Lepas exclusively for the pedunculate
division, and the name has been given to the family and compounded in sub-
generic names. Now, this shows that old authors attached the name Lepas
more particularly to the pedunculate division. Now, if I were to use Lepas
for Anatifera (30/4. Anatifera and Anatifa were used as generic names for
what Linnaeus and Darwin called Lepas anatifera.) I should get rid of the
difficulty of the second edition of Hill and of the difficulty of Anatifera
vel Anatifa. Linnaeus's generic description is equally applicable to
Anatifera and Balanus, though the latter stands first. Must the mere
precedence rigorously outweigh the apparent opinion of many old
naturalists? As for using Lepas in place of Balanus, I cannot. Every one
will understand what is meant by Lepas Anatifera, so that convenience would
be wonderfully thus suited. If I do not hear, I shall understand I have
LETTER 31. J.D. HOOKER TO CHARLES DARWIN.
(31/1. In the "Life and Letters," I., page 392, is a letter to Sir J.D.
Hooker from Mr. Darwin, to whom the former had dedicated his "Himalayan
Journals." Mr. Darwin there wrote: "Your letter, received this morning,
has interested me extremely, and I thank you sincerely for telling me your
old thoughts and aspirations." The following is the letter referred to,
which at our request Sir Joseph has allowed us to publish.)
Kew, March 1st, 1854.
Now that my book (31/2. "Himalayan Journals," 2 volumes. London, 1854.)
has been publicly acknowledged to be of some value, I feel bold to write to
you; for, to tell you the truth, I have never been without a misgiving that
the dedication might prove a very bad compliment, however kindly I knew you
would receive it. The idea of the dedication has been present to me from a
very early date: it was formed during the Antarctic voyage, out of love
for your own "Journal," and has never deserted me since; nor would it, I
think, had I never known more of you than by report and as the author of
the said "Naturalist's Journal." Short of the gratification I felt in
getting the book out, I know no greater than your kind, hearty acceptation
of the dedication; and, had the reviewers gibbeted me, the dedication would
alone have given me real pain. I have no wish to assume a stoical
indifference to public opinion, for I am well alive to it, and the critics
might have irritated me sorely, but they could never have caused me the
regret that the association of your name with a bad book of mine would
You will laugh when I tell you that, my book out, I feel past the meridian
of life! But you do not know how from my earliest childhood I nourished
and cherished the desire to make a creditable journey in a new country, and
write such a respectable account of its natural features as should give me
a niche amongst the scientific explorers of the globe I inhabit, and hand
my name down as a useful contributor of original matter. A combination of
most rare advantages has enabled me to gain as much of my object as
contents me, for I never wished to be greatest amongst you, nor did rivalry
ever enter my thoughts. No ulterior object has ever been present to me in
this pursuit. My ambition is fully gratified by the satisfactory
completion of my task, and I am now happy to go on jog-trot at Botany till
the end of my days--downhill, in one sense, all the way. I shall never
have such another object to work for, nor shall I feel the want of it...As
it is, the craving of thirty years is satisfied, and I now look back on
life in a way I never could previously. There never was a past hitherto to
me. The phantom was always in view; mayhap it is only a "ridiculus mus"
after all, but it is big enough for me...
(PLATE: T.H. HUXLEY, 1857. Maull & Polyblank photo., Walker & Cockerell
(32/1. The story of Huxley's life has been fully given in the interesting
biography edited by Mr. Leonard Huxley. (32/2. "Life and Letters of
Thomas Henry Huxley." London 1900.) Readers of this book and of the "Life
and Letters of Charles Darwin" gain an insight into the relationship
between this pair of friends to which any words of ours can add but little.
Darwin realised to the full the essential strength of Mr. Huxley's nature;
he knew, as all the world now knows, the delicate sense of honour of his
friend, and he was ever inclined to lean on his guidance in practical
matters, as on an elder brother. Of Mr. Huxley's dialectical and literary
skill he was an enthusiastic admirer, and he never forgot what his theories
owed to the fighting powers of his "general agent." (32/3. Ibid., I.,
page 171.) Huxley's estimate of Darwin is very interesting: he valued him
most highly for what was so strikingly characteristic of himself--the love
of truth. He spoke of finding in him "something bigger than ordinary
humanity--an unequalled simplicity and directness of purpose--a sublime
unselfishness." (32/4. Ibid., II., page 94. Huxley is speaking of
Gordon's death, and goes on: "Of all the people whom I have met with in my
life, he and Darwin are the two in whom I have found," etc.) The same
point of view comes out in Huxley's estimate of Darwin's mental power.
(32/5. Ibid., II., page 39.) "He had a clear, rapid intelligence, a great
memory, a vivid imagination, and what made his greatness was the strict
subordination of all these to his love of truth." This, as an analysis of
Darwin's mental equipment, seems to us incomplete, though we do not pretend
to mend it. We do not think it is possible to dissect and label the
complex qualities which go to make up that which we all recognise as
genius. But, if we may venture to criticise, we would say that Mr.
Huxley's words do not seem to cover that supreme power of seeing and
thinking what the rest of the world had overlooked, which was one of
Darwin's most striking characteristics. As throwing light on the quality
of their friendship, we give below a letter which has already appeared in
the "Life and Letters of T.H. Huxley," I., page 366. Mr. L. Huxley gives
an account of the breakdown in health which convinced Huxley's friends that
rest and relief from anxiety must be found for him. Mr. L. Huxley aptly
remarks of the letter, "It is difficult to say whether it does more honour
to him who sent it or to him who received it." (32/6. Huxley's "Life,"
I., page 366. Mr. Darwin left to Mr. Huxley a legacy of 1,000 pounds, "as
a slight memorial of my lifelong affection and respect for him."))
LETTER 32. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
Down, April 23rd, 1873.
My dear Huxley
I have been asked by some of your friends (eighteen in number) to inform
you that they have placed, through Robarts, Lubbock & Co., the sum of 2,100
pounds to your account at your bankers. We have done this to enable you to
get such complete rest as you may require for the re-establishment of your
health; and in doing this we are convinced that we act for the public
interest, as well as in accordance with our most earnest desires. Let me
assure you that we are all your warm personal friends, and that there is
not a stranger or mere acquaintance amongst us. If you could have heard
what was said, or could have read what was, as I believe, our inmost
thoughts, you would know that we all feel towards you, as we should to an
honoured and much loved brother. I am sure that you will return this
feeling, and will therefore be glad to give us the opportunity of aiding
you in some degree, as this will be a happiness to us to the last day of
our lives. Let me add that our plan occurred to several of your friends at
nearly the same time and quite independently of one another.
My dear Huxley,
Your affectionate friend,
LETTER 33. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
(33/1. The following letter is one of the earliest of the long series
addressed to Mr. Huxley.)
Down, April 23rd .
My dear Sir
I have got out all the specimens, which I have thought could by any
possibility be of any use to you; but I have not looked at them, and know
not what state they are in, but should be much pleased if they are of the
smallest use to you. I enclose a catalogue of habitats: I thought my
notes would have turned out of more use. I have copied out such few points
as perhaps would not be apparent in preserved specimens. The bottle shall
go to Mr. Gray on Thursday next by our weekly carrier.
I am very much obliged for your paper on the Mollusca (33/2. The paper of
Huxley's is "On the Morphology of the Cephalous Mollusca, etc." ("Phil.
Trans. R. Soc." Volume 143, Part I., 1853, page 29.)); I have read it all
with much interest: but it would be ridiculous in me to make any remarks
on a subject on which I am so utterly ignorant; but I can see its high
importance. The discovery of the type or "idea" (33/3. Huxley defines his
use of the word "archetype" at page 50: "All that I mean is the conception
of a form embodying the most general propositions that can be affirmed
respecting the Cephalous Mollusca, standing in the same relation to them as
the diagram to a geometrical theorem, and like it, at once, imaginary and
true.") (in your sense, for I detest the word as used by Owen, Agassiz &
Co.) of each great class, I cannot doubt, is one of the very highest ends
of Natural History; and certainly most interesting to the worker-out.
Several of your remarks have interested me: I am, however, surprised at
what you say versus "anamorphism" (33/4. The passage referred to is at
page 63: "If, however, all Cephalous Mollusks...be only modifications by
excess or defect of the parts of a definite archetype, then, I think, it
follows as a necessary consequence, that no anamorphism takes place in this
group. There is no progression from a lower to a higher type, but merely a
more or less complete evolution of one type." Huxley seems to use the term
anamorphism in a sense differing from that of some writers. Thus in
Jourdan's "Dictionnaire des Termes Usites dans les Sciences Naturelles,"
1834, it is defined as the production of an atypical form either by arrest
or excess of development.), I should have thought that the archetype in
imagination was always in some degree embryonic, and therefore capable [of]
and generally undergoing further development.
Is it not an extraordinary fact, the great difference in position of the
heart in different species of Cleodora? (33/5. A genus of Pteropods.) I
am a believer that when any part, usually constant, differs considerably in
different allied species that it will be found in some degree variable
within the limits of the same species. Thus, I should expect that if great
numbers of specimens of some of the species of Cleodora had been examined
with this object in view, the position of the heart in some of the species
would have been found variable. Can you aid me with any analogous facts?
I am very much pleased to hear that you have not given up the idea of
noticing my cirripedial volume. All that I have seen since confirms
everything of any importance stated in that volume--more especially I have
been able rigorously to confirm in an anomalous species, by the clearest
evidence, that the actual cellular contents of the ovarian tubes, by the
gland-like action of a modified portion of the continuous tube, passes into
the cementing stuff: in fact cirripedes make glue out of their own
unformed eggs! (33/6. On Darwin's mistake in this point see "Life and
Letters," III., page 2.)
Pray believe me,
I told the above case to Milne Edwards, and I saw he did not place the
smallest belief in it.
LETTER 34. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
Down, September 2nd, .
My second volume on the everlasting barnacles is at last published (34/1.
"A Monograph of the Sub-class Cirripedia. II. The Balanidae, the
Verrucidae." Ray Society, 1854.), and I will do myself the pleasure of
sending you a copy to Jermyn Street next Thursday, as I have to send
another book then to Mr. Baily.
And now I want to ask you a favour--namely, to answer me two questions. As
you are so perfectly familiar with the doings, etc., of all Continental
naturalists, I want you to tell me a few names of those whom you think
would care for my volume. I do not mean in the light of puffing my book,
but I want not to send copies to those who from other studies, age, etc.,
would view it as waste paper. From assistance rendered me, I consider
myself bound to send copies to: (1) Bosquet of Maestricht, (2) Milne
Edwards, (3) Dana, (4) Agassiz, (5) Muller, (6) W. Dunker of Hesse Cassel.
Now I have five or six other copies to distribute, and will you be so very
kind as to help me? I had thought of Von Siebold, Loven, d'Orbigny,
Kolliker, Sars, Kroyer, etc., but I know hardly anything about any of them.
My second question, it is merely a chance whether you can answer,--it is
whether I can send these books or any of them (in some cases accompanied by
specimens), through the Royal Society: I have some vague idea of having
heard that the Royal Society did sometimes thus assist members.
I have just been reading your review of the "Vestiges" (34/2. In his
chapter on the "Reception of the Origin of Species" ("Life and Letters,"
II., pages 188-9), Mr. Huxley wrote: "and the only review I ever have
qualms of conscience about, on the ground of needless savagery, is one I
wrote on the 'Vestiges.'" The article is in the "British and Foreign
Medico-chirurgical Review," XIII., 1854, page 425. The "great man"
referred to below is Owen: see Huxley's review, page 439, and Huxley's
"Life." I., page 94.), and the way you handle a great Professor is really
exquisite and inimitable. I have been extremely interested in other parts,
and to my mind it is incomparably the best review I have read on the
"Vestiges"; but I cannot think but that you are rather hard on the poor
author. I must think that such a book, if it does no other good, spreads
the taste for Natural Science.
But I am perhaps no fair judge, for I am almost as unorthodox about species
as the "Vestiges" itself, though I hope not quite so unphilosophical. How
capitally you analyse his notion about law. I do not know when I have read
a review which interested me so much. By Heavens, how the blood must have
gushed into the capillaries when a certain great man (whom with all his
faults I cannot help liking) read it!
I am rather sorry you do not think more of Agassiz's embryological stages
(34/3. See "Origin," Edition VI., page 310: also Letter 40, Note.), for
though I saw how exceedingly weak the evidence was, I was led to hope in
LETTER 35. TO J.D. HOOKER.
With respect to "highness" and "lowness," my ideas are only eclectic and
not very clear. It appears to me that an unavoidable wish to compare all
animals with men, as supreme, causes some confusion; and I think that
nothing besides some such vague comparison is intended, or perhaps is even
possible, when the question is whether two kingdoms such as the Articulata
or Mollusca are the highest. Within the same kingdom I am inclined to
think that "highest" usually means that form which has undergone most
"morphological differentiation" from the common embryo or archetype of the
class; but then every now and then one is bothered (as Milne Edwards has
remarked) by "retrograde development," i.e., the mature animal having fewer
and less important organs than its own embryo. The specialisation of parts
to different functions, or "the division of physiological labour" (35/1. A
slip of the pen for "physiological division of labour.") of Milne Edwards
exactly agrees (and to my mind is the best definition, when it can be
applied) with what you state is your idea in regard to plants. I do not
think zoologists agree in any definite ideas on this subject; and my ideas
are not clearer than those of my brethren.
LETTER 36. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, July 2nd .
I have had the house full of visitors, and when I talk I can do absolutely
nothing else; and since then I have been poorly enough, otherwise I should
have answered your letter long before this, for I enjoy extremely
discussing such points as those in your last note. But what a villain you
are to heap gratuitous insults on my ELASTIC theory: you might as well call
the virtue of a lady elastic, as the virtue of a theory accommodating in
its favours. Whatever you may say, I feel that my theory does give me some
advantages in discussing these points. But to business: I keep my notes
in such a way, viz., in bulk, that I cannot possibly lay my hand on any
reference; nor as far as the vegetable kingdom is concerned do I distinctly
remember having read any discussion on general highness or lowness,
excepting Schleiden (I fancy) on Compositae being highest. Ad. de Jussieu
(36/1. "Monographie de la Famille des Malpighiacees," by Adrien de
Jussieu, "Arch. du Museum." Volume III., page 1, 1843.), in "Arch. du
Museum," Tome 3, discusses the value of characters of degraded flowers in
the Malpighiaceae, but I doubt whether this at all concerns you. Mirbel
somewhere has discussed some such question.
Plants lie under an enormous disadvantage in respect to such discussions in
not passing through larval stages. I do not know whether you can
distinguish a plant low from non-development from one low from degradation,
which theoretically, at least, are very distinct. I must agree with Forbes
that a mollusc may be higher than one articulate animal and lower than
another; if one was asked which was highest as a whole, the Molluscan or
Articulate Kingdom, I should look to and compare the highest in each, and
not compare their archetypes (supposing them to be known, which they are
But there are, in my opinion, more difficult cases than any we have alluded
to, viz., that of fish--but my ideas are not clear enough, and I do not
suppose you would care to hear what I obscurely think on this subject. As
far as my elastic theory goes, all I care about is that very ancient
organisms (when different from existing) should tend to resemble the larval
or embryological stages of the existing.
I am glad to hear what you say about parallelism: I am an utter
disbeliever of any parallelism more than mere accident. It is very
strange, but I think Forbes is often rather fanciful; his "Polarity" (36/2.
See Letter 41, Note.) makes me sick--it is like "magnetism" turning a
If I can think of any one likely to take your "Illustrations" (36/3.
"Illustrations of Himalayan Plants from Drawings made by J.F. Cathcart."
Folio, 1855.), I will send the advertisement. If you want to make up some
definite number so as to go to press, I will put my name down with PLEASURE
(and I hope and believe that you will trust me in saying so), though I
should not in the course of nature subscribe to any horticultural work:--
act for me.
LETTER 37. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, [May] 29th, 1854.
I am really truly sorry to hear about your [health]. I entreat you to
write down your own case,--symptoms, and habits of life,--and then consider
your case as that of a stranger; and I put it to you, whether common sense
would not order you to take more regular exercise and work your brain less.
(N.B. Take a cold bath and walk before breakfast.) I am certain in the
long run you would not lose time. Till you have a thoroughly bad stomach,
you will not know the really great evil of it, morally, physically, and
every way. Do reflect and act resolutely. Remember your troubled heart-
action formerly plainly told how your constitution was tried. But I will
say no more--excepting that a man is mad to risk health, on which
everything, including his children's inherited health, depends. Do not
hate me for this lecture. Really I am not surprised at your having some
headache after Thursday evening, for it must have been no small exertion
making an abstract of all that was said after dinner. Your being so
engaged was a bore, for there were several things that I should have liked
to have talked over with you. It was certainly a first-rate dinner, and I
enjoyed it extremely, far more than I expected. Very far from disagreeing
with me, my London visits have just lately taken to suit my stomach
admirably; I begin to think that dissipation, high-living, with lots of
claret, is what I want, and what I had during the last visit. We are going
to act on this same principle, and in a very profligate manner have just
taken a pair of season-tickets to see the Queen open the Crystal Palace.
(37/1. Queen Victoria opened the Crystal Palace at Sydenham on June 10th,
1854.) How I wish there was any chance of your being there! The last
grand thing we were at together answered, I am sure, very well, and that
was the Duke's funeral.
Have you seen Forbes' introductory lecture (37/2. Edward Forbes was
appointed to a Professorship at Edinburgh in May, 1854.) in the "Scotsman"
(lent me by Horner)? it is really ADMIRABLY done, though without anything,
perhaps, very original, which could hardly be expected: it has given me
even a higher opinion than I before had, of the variety and polish of his
intellect. It is, indeed, an irreparable loss to London natural history
society. I wish, however, he would not praise so much that old brown dry
stick Jameson. Altogether, to my taste, it is much the best introductory
lecture I have ever read. I hear his anniversary address is very good.
Adios, my dear Hooker; do be wise and good, and be careful of your stomach,
within which, as I know full well, lie intellect, conscience, temper, and
LETTER 38. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, December 2nd .
You are a pretty fellow to talk of funking the returning thanks at the
dinner for the medal. (38/1. The Royal medal was given to Sir Joseph in
1854.) I heard that it was decidedly the best speech of the evening, given
"with perfect fluency, distinctness, and command of language," and that you
showed great self-possession: was the latter the proverbially desperate
courage of a coward? But you are a pretty fellow to be so desperately
afraid and then to make the crack speech. Many such an ordeal may you have
to go through! I do not know whether Sir William [Hooker] would be
contented with Lord Rosse's (38/2. President of the Royal Society 1848-
54.) speech on giving you the medal; but I am very much pleased with it,
and really the roll of what you have done was, I think, splendid. What a
great pity he half spoiled it by not having taken the trouble just to read
it over first. Poor Hofmann (38/3. August Wilhelm Hofmann, the other
medallist of 1854.) came off in this respect even worse. It is really
almost arrogant insolence against every one not an astronomer.
The next morning I was at a very pleasant breakfast party at Sir R.
Inglis's. (38/4. Sir Robert Inglis, President of the British Association
in 1847. Apparently Darwin was present at the afternoon meeting, but not
at the dinner.) I have received, with very many thanks, the aberrant
genera; but I have not had time to consider them, nor your remarks on
Australian botanical geography.
LETTER 39. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
(39/1. The following letter shows Darwin's interest in the adjudication of
the Royal medals. The year 1855 was the last during which he served on the
Council of the Society. He had previously served in 1849-50.)
Down, March 31st, 1855.
I have thought and enquired much about Westwood, and I really think he
amply deserves the gold medal. But should you think of some one with
higher claim I am quite ready to give up. Indeed, I suppose without I get
some one to second it, I cannot propose him.
Will you be so kind as to read the enclosed, and return it to me? Should I
send it to Bell? That is, without you demur or convince me. I had thought
of Hancock, a higher class of labourer; but, as far as I can weigh, he has
not, as yet, done so much as Westwood. I may state that I read the whole
"Classification" (39/2. Possibly Westwood's "Introduction to the Modern
Classification of Insects" (1839).) before I was on the Council, and ever
thought on the subject of medals. I fear my remarks are rather lengthy,
but to do him justice I could not well shorten them. Pray tell me frankly
whether the enclosed is the right sort of thing, for though I was once on
the Council of the Royal, I never attended any meetings, owing to bad
With respect to the Copley medal (39/3. The Copley Medal was given to
Lyell in 1858.), I have a strong feeling that Lyell has a high claim, but
as he has had the Royal Medal I presume that it would be thought
objectionable to propose him; and as I intend (you not objecting and
converting me) to propose W. for the Royal, it would, of course, appear
intolerably presumptuous to propose for the Copley also.
LETTER 40. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
Down, June 10th, 1855.
Shall you attend the Council of the Royal Society on Thursday next? I have
not been very well of late, and I doubt whether I can attend; and if I
could do anything (pray conceal the scandalous fact), I want to go to the
Crystal Palace to meet the Horners, Lyells, and a party. So I want to know
whether you will speak for me most strongly for Barrande. You know better
than I do his admirable labours on the development of trilobites, and his
most important work on his Lower or Primordial Zone. I enclose an old note
of Lyell's to show what he thinks. With respect to Dana, whom I also
proposed, you know well his merits. I can speak most highly of his
classificatory work on crustacea and his Geographical Distribution. His
Volcanic Geology is admirable, and he has done much good work on coral
If you attend, do not answer this; but if you cannot be at the Council,
please inform me, and I suppose I must, if I can, attend.
Thank you for your abstract of your lecture at the Royal Institution, which
interested me much, and rather grieved me, for I had hoped things had been
in a slight degree otherwise. (40/1. "On certain Zoological Arguments
commonly adduced in favour of the hypothesis of the Progressive Development
of Animal Life," Discourse, Friday, April 20, 1855: "Proceedings R.I."
(1855). Published also in "Huxley's Scientific Memoirs." The lecturer
dwelt chiefly on the argument of Agassiz, which he summarises as follows:
"Homocercal fishes have in their embryonic state heterocercal tails;
therefore heterocercality is, so far, a mark of an embryonic state as
compared with homocercality, and the earlier heterocercal fish are
embryonic as compared with the later homocercal." He shows that facts do
not support this view, and concludes generally "that there is no real
parallel between the successive forms assumed in the development of the
life of the individual at present and those which have appeared at
different epochs in the past.") I heard some time ago that before long I
might congratulate you on becoming a married man. (40/2. Mr. Huxley was
married July 21st, 1855.) From my own experience of some fifteen years, I
am very sure that there is nothing in this wide world which more deserves
congratulation, and most sincerely and heartily do I congratulate you, and
wish you many years of as much happiness as this world can afford.
LETTER 41. TO J.D. HOOKER.
(41/1. The following letter illustrates Darwin's work on aberrant genera.
In the "Origin," Edition I., page 429, he wrote: "The more aberrant any
form is, the greater must be the number of connecting forms which, on my
theory, have been exterminated and utterly lost. And we have some evidence
of aberrant forms having suffered severely from extinction, for they are
generally represented by extremely few species; and such species as do
occur are generally very distinct from each other, which again implies
Down, November 15th [1855?].
In Schoenherr's Catalogue of Curculionidae (41/2. "Genera et Species
Curculionidum." (C.J. Schoenherr: Paris, 1833-38.)), the 6,717 species
are on an average 10.17 to a genus. Waterhouse (who knows the group well,
and who has published on fewness of species in aberrant genera) has given
me a list of 62 aberrant genera, and these have on an average 7.6 species;
and if one single genus be removed (and which I cannot yet believe ought to
be considered aberrant), then the 61 aberrant genera would have only 4.91
species on an average. I tested these results in another way. I found in
Schoenherr 9 families, including only 11 genera, and these genera (9 of
which were in Waterhouse's list) I found included only 3.36 species on an
This last result led me to Lindley's "Vegetable Kingdom," in which I found
(excluding thallogens and acrogens) that the genera include each 10.46
species (how near by chance to the Curculionidae), and I find 21 orders
including single genera, and these 21 genera have on average 7.95 species;
but if Lindley is right that Erythroxylon (with its 75 species) ought to be
amongst the Malpighiads, then the average would be only 4.6 per genus.
But here comes, as it appears to me, an odd thing (I hope I shall not quite
weary you out). There are 29 other orders, each with 2 genera, and these
58 genera have on an average 15.07 species: this great number being owing
to the 10 genera in the Smilaceae, Salicaceae (with 220 species),
Begoniaceae, Balsaminaceae, Grossulariaceae, without which the remaining 48
genera have on an average only 5.91 species.
This case of the orders with only 2 genera, the genera notwithstanding
having 15.07 species each, seems to me very perplexing and upsets, almost,
the conclusion deducible from the orders with single genera.
I have gone higher, and tested the alliances with 1, 2, and 3 orders; and
in these cases I find both the genera few in each alliance, and the
species, less than the average of the whole kingdom, in each genus.
All this has amused me, but I daresay you will have a good sneer at me, and
tell me to stick to my barnacles. By the way, you agree with me that
sometimes one gets despondent--for instance, when theory and facts will not
harmonise; but what appears to me even worse, and makes me despair, is,
when I see from the same great class of facts, men like Barrande deduce
conclusions, such as his "Colonies" (41/3. Lyell briefly refers to
Barrande's Bohemian work in a letter (August 31st, 1856) to Fleming ("Life
of Sir Charles Lyell," II., page 225): "He explained to me on the spot his
remarkable discovery of a 'colony' of Upper Silurian fossils, 3,400 feet
deep, in the midst of the Lower Silurian group. This has made a great
noise, but I think I can explain away the supposed anomaly by, etc." (See
Letter 40, Note.) and his agreement with E. de Beaumont's lines of
Elevation, or such men as Forbes with his Polarity (41/4. Edward Forbes
"On the Manifestation of Polarity in the Distribution of Organised Beings
in Time" ("Edinburgh New Phil. Journal," Volume LVII., 1854, page 332).
The author points out that "the maximum development of generic types during
the Palaeozoic period was during its earlier epochs; that during the
Neozoic period towards its later periods." Thus the two periods of
activity are conceived to be at the two opposite poles of a sphere which in
some way represents for him the system of Nature.); I have not a doubt that
before many months are over I shall be longing for the most dishonest
species as being more honest than the honestest theories. One remark more.
If you feel any interest, or can get any one else to feel any interest on
the aberrant genera question, I should think the most interesting way would
be to take aberrant genera in any great natural family, and test the
average number of species to the genera in that family.
How I wish we lived near each other! I should so like a talk with you on
geographical distribution, taken in its greatest features. I have been
trying from land productions to take a very general view of the world, and
I should so like to see how far it agrees with plants.
LETTER 42. TO MRS. LYELL.
(42/1. Mrs. Lyell is a daughter of the late Mr. Leonard Horner, and widow
of Lieut.-Col. Lyell, a brother of Sir Charles.)
Down, January 26th .
I shall be very glad to be of any sort of use to you in regard to the
beetles. But first let me thank you for your kind note and offer of
specimens to my children. My boys are all butterfly hunters; and all young
and ardent lepidopterists despise, from the bottom of their souls,
The simplest plan for your end and for the good of entomology, I should
think, would be to offer the collection to Dr. J.E. Gray for the British
Museum on condition that a perfect set was made out for you. If the
collection was at all valuable, I should think he would be very glad to
have this done. Whether any third set would be worth making out would