Part 3 out of 10
depend on the value of the collection. I do not suppose that you expect
the insects to be named, for that would be a most serious labour. If you
do not approve of this scheme, I should think it very likely that Mr.
Waterhouse would think it worth his while to set a series for you,
retaining duplicates for himself; but I say this only on a venture. You
might trust Mr. Waterhouse implicitly, which I fear, as [illegible] goes,
is more than can be said for all entomologists. I presume, if you thought
of either scheme, Sir Charles Lyell could easily see the gentlemen and
arrange it; but, if not, I could do so when next I come to town, which,
however, will not be for three or four weeks.
With respect to giving your children a taste for Natural History, I will
venture one remark--viz., that giving them specimens in my opinion would
tend to destroy such taste. Youngsters must be themselves collectors to
acquire a taste; and if I had a collection of English lepidoptera, I would
be systematically most miserly, and not give my boys half a dozen
butterflies in the year. Your eldest has the brow of an observer, if there
be the least truth in phrenology. We are all better, but we have been of
late a poor household.
LETTER 43. TO J.D. HOOKER.
I should have less scruple in troubling you if I had any confidence what my
work would turn out. Sometimes I think it will be good, at other times I
really feel as much ashamed of myself as the author of the "Vestiges" ought
to be of himself. I know well that your kindness and friendship would make
you do a great deal for me, but that is no reason that I should be
unreasonable. I cannot and ought not to forget that all your time is
employed in work certain to be valuable. It is superfluous in me to say
that I enjoy exceedingly writing to you, and that your answers are of the
greatest possible service to me. I return with many thanks the proof on
Aquilegia (43/1. This seems to refer to the discussion on the genus
Aquilegia in Hooker and Thomson's "Flora Indica," 1855, Volume I.,
Systematic Part, page 44. The authors' conclusion is that "all the
European and many of the Siberian forms generally recognised belong to one
very variable species." With regard to cirripedes, Mr. Darwin spoke of
"certain just perceptible differences which blend together and constitute
varieties and not species" ("Life and Letters," I., page 379).): it has
interested me much. It is exactly like my barnacles; but for my particular
purpose, most unfortunately, both Kolreuter and Gartner have worked chiefly
on A. vulgaris and canadensis and atro-purpurea, and these are just the
species that you seem not to have studied. N.B. Why do you not let me buy
the Indian Flora? You are too magnificent.
Now for a short ride on my chief (at present) hobbyhorse, viz. aberrant
genera. What you say under your remarks on Lepidodendron seems just the
case that I want, to give some sort of evidence of what we both believe in,
viz. how groups came to be anomalous or aberrant; and I think some sort of
proof is required, for I do not believe very many naturalists would at all
admit our view.
Thank you for the caution on large anomalous genera first catching
attention. I do not quite agree with your "grave objection to the whole
process," which is "that if you multiply the anomalous species by 100, and
divide the normal by the same, you will then reverse the names..." For, to
take an example, Ornithorhynchus and Echidna would not be less aberrant if
each had a dozen (I do not say 100, because we have no such cases in the
animal kingdom) species instead of one. What would really make these two
genera less anomalous would be the creation of many genera and sub-families
round and radiating from them on all sides. Thus if Australia were
destroyed, Didelphys in S. America would be wonderfully anomalous (this is
your case with Proteaceae), whereas now there are so many genera and little
sub-families of Marsupiata that the group cannot be called aberrant or
anomalous. Sagitta (and the earwig) is one of the most anomalous animals
in the world, and not a bit the less because there are a dozen species.
Now, my point (which, I think is a slightly new point of view) is, if it is
extinction which has made the genus anomalous, as a general rule the same
causes of extinction would allow the existence of only a few species in
such genera. Whenever we meet (which will be on the 23rd [at the] Club) I
shall much like to hear whether this strikes you as sound. I feel all the
time on the borders of a circle of truism. Of course I could not think of
such a request, but you might possibly:--if Bentham does not think the
whole subject rubbish, ask him some time to pick out the dozen most
anomalous genera in the Leguminosae, or any great order of which there is a
monograph by which I could calculate the ordinary percentage of species to
genera. I am the more anxious, as the more I enquire, the fewer are the
cases in which it can be done. It cannot be done in birds, or, I fear, in
mammifers. I doubt much whether in any other class of insects [other than
I saw your nice notice of poor Forbes in the "Gardeners' Chronicle," and I
see in the "Athenaeum" a notice of meeting on last Saturday of his friends.
Of course I shall wish to subscribe as soon as possible to any memorial...
I have just been testing practically what disuse does in reducing parts. I
have made [skeletons] of wild and tame duck (oh the smell of well-boiled,
high duck!), and I find the tame duck ought, according to scale of wild
prototype, to have its two wings 360 grains in weight; but it has only 317,
or 43 grains too little, or 1/7 of [its] own two wings too little in
weight. This seems rather interesting to me. (43/2. On the conclusions
drawn from these researches, see Mr. Platt Ball, "The Effects of Use and
Disuse" (Nature Series), 1890, page 55. With regard to his pigeons, Darwin
wrote, in November 1855: "I love them to that extent that I cannot bear to
kill and skeletonise them.")
P.S.--I do not know whether you will think this worth reading over. I have
worked it out since writing my letter, and tabulate the whole.
21 orders with 1 genus, having 7.95 species (or 4.6?).
29 orders with 2 genera, having 15.05 species on an average.
23 orders each with 3 genera, and these genera include on an average 8.2
20 orders each with 4 genera, and these genera include on an average 12.2
27 orders each with above 50 genera (altogether 4716 genera), and these
genera on an average have 9.97 species.
From this I conclude, whether there be many or few genera in an order, the
number of species in a genus is not much affected; but perhaps when [there
is] only one genus in an order it will be affected, and this will depend
whether the [genus] Erythroxylon be made a family of.
LETTER 44. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, April 8th .
I have been particularly glad to get your splendid eloge of Lindley. His
name had been lately passing through my head, and I had hoped that Miers
would have proposed him for the Royal medal. I most entirely agree that
the Copley (44/1. The late Professor Lindley never attained the honour of
the Copley medal. The Royal medal was awarded to him in 1857.) is more
appropriate, and I daresay he would not have valued the Royal. From
skimming through many botanical books, and from often consulting the
"Vegetable Kingdom," I had (ignorant as I am) formed the highest opinion of
his claims as a botanist. If Sharpey will stick up strong for him, we
should have some chance; but the natural sciences are but feebly
represented in the Council. Sir P. Egerton, I daresay, would be strong for
him. You know Bell is out. Now, my only doubt is, and I hope that you
will consider this, that the natural sciences being weak on the Council,
and (I fancy) the most powerful man in the Council, Col. S[abine], being
strong against Lindley, whether we should have any chance of succeeding.
It would be so easy to name some eminent man whose name would be well-known
to all the physicists. Would Lindley hear of and dislike being proposed
for the Copley and not succeeding? Would it not be better on this view to
propose him for the Royal? Do think of this. Moreover, if Lindley is not
proposed for the Royal, I fear both Royal medals would go [to] physicists;
for I, for one, should not like to propose another zoologist, though
Hancock would be a very good man, and I fancy there would be a feeling
against medals to two botanists. But for whatever Lindley is proposed, I
will do my best. We will talk this over here.
LETTER 45. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, May 9th .
...With respect to Huxley, I was on the point of speaking to Crawford and
Strezlecki (who will be on Committee of the Athenaeum) when I bethought me
of how Owen would look and what he would say. Cannot you fancy him, with
slow and gentle voice, asking "Will Mr. Crawford tell me what Mr. Huxley
has done, deserving this honour; I only know that he differs from, and
disputes the authority of Cuvier, Ehrenberg, and Agassiz as of no weight at
all." And when I began to tell Mr. Crawford what to say, I was puzzled,
and could refer him only to some excellent papers in the "Phil. Trans." for
which the medal had been awarded. But I doubt, with an opposing faction,
whether this would be considered enough, for I believe real scientific
merit is not thought enough, without the person is generally well known.
Now I want to hear what you deliberately think on this head: it would be
bad to get him proposed and then rejected; and Owen is very powerful.
LETTER 46. TO J.D. HOOKER.
I have got the Lectures, and have read them. (46/1. The reference is
presumably to the Royal Institution Lectures given in 1854-56. Those which
we have seen--namely, those reprinted in the "Scientific Memoirs," Volume
I.--"On the Common Plan of Animal Form," page 281; "On certain Zoological
Arguments, etc." page 300; "On Natural History as Knowledge, Discipline,
and Power," page 305, do not seem to us to contain anything likely to
offend; but Falconer's attack in the "Ann. and Mag. of Nat. Hist." June
1856, on the last-named lecture, shows strong feeling. A reply by Mr.
Huxley appeared in the July number of the same Journal. The most heretical
discussion from a modern standpoint is at page 311, where he asks how it is
conceivable that the bright colours of butterflies and shells or the
elegant forms of Foraminifera can possibly be of service to their
possessors; and it is this which especially struck Darwin, judging by the
pencil notes on his copy of the Lecture.) Though I believe, as far as my
knowledge goes, that Huxley is right, yet I think his tone very much too
vehement, and I have ventured to say so in a note to Huxley. I had not
thought of these lectures in relation to the Athenaeum (46/2. Mr. Huxley
was in 1858 elected to the Athenaeum Club under Rule 2, which provides for
the annual election of "a certain number of persons of distinguished
eminence in science, literature, or the arts, or for public services."),
but I am inclined quite to agree with you, and that we had better pause
before anything is said...(N.B. I found Falconer very indignant at the
manner in which Huxley treated Cuvier in his Royal Institution lectures;
and I have gently told Huxley so.) I think we had better do nothing: to
try in earnest to get a great naturalist into the Athenaeum and fail, is
far worse than doing nothing.
How strange, funny, and disgraceful that nearly all (Faraday and Sir J.
Herschel at least exceptions) our great men are in quarrels in couplets; it
never struck me before...
LETTER 47. C. LYELL TO CHARLES DARWIN.
(47/1. In the "Life and Letters," II., page 72, is given a letter (June
16th, 1856) to Lyell, in which Darwin exhales his indignation over the
"extensionists" who created continents ad libitum to suit the convenience
of their theories. On page 74 a fuller statement of his views is given in
a letter dated June 25th. We have not seen Lyell's reply to this, but his
reply to Darwin's letter of June 16th is extant, and is here printed for
the first time.)
53, Harley Street, London, June 17th, 1856.
I wonder you did not also mention D. Sharpe's paper (47/2. "On the Last
Elevation of the Alps, etc." ("Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc." Volume XII.,
1856, page 102.), just published, by which the Alps were submerged as far
as 9,000 feet of their present elevation above the sea in the Glacial
period and then since uplifted again. Without admitting this, you would
probably convey the alpine boulders to the Jura by marine currents, and if
so, make the Alps and Jura islands in the glacial sea. And would not the
Glacial theory, as now very generally understood, immerse as much of Europe
as I did in my original map of Europe, when I simply expressed all the area
which at some time or other had been under water since the commencement of
the Eocene period? I almost suspect the glacial submergence would exceed
But would not this be a measure of the movement in every other area,
northern (arctic), antarctic, or tropical, during an equal period--oceanic
or continental? For the conversion of sea into land would always equal the
turning of much land into sea.
But all this would be done in a fraction of the Pliocene period; the
Glacial shells are barely 1 per cent. extinct species. Multiply this by
the older Pliocene and Miocene epochs.
You also forget an author who, by means of atolls, contrived to submerge
archipelagoes (or continents?), the mountains of which must originally have
differed from each other in height 8,000 (or 10,000?) feet, so that they
all just rose to the surface at one level, or their sites are marked by
buoys of coral. I could never feel sure whether he meant this tremendous
catastrophe, all brought about by what Sedgwick called "Lyell's niggling
operations," to have been effected during the era of existing species of
corals. Perhaps you can tell me, for I am really curious to know...(47/3.
The author referred to is of course Darwin.)
Now, although there is nothing in my works to warrant the building up of
continents in the Atlantic and Pacific even since the Eocene period, yet,
as some of the rocks in the central Alps are in part Eocene, I begin to
think that all continents and oceans may be chiefly, if not all, post-
Eocene, and Dana's "Atlantic Ocean" of the Lower Silurian is childish (see
the Anniversary Address, 1856). (47/4. Probably Dana's Anniversary
Address to the "American Association for the Advancement of Science,"
published in the "Proceedings" 1856.) But how far you are at liberty to
call up continents from "the vasty deep" as often as you want to convey a
Helix from the United States to Europe in Miocene or Pliocene periods is a
question; for the ocean is getting deeper of late, and Haughton says the
mean depth is eleven miles! by his late paper on tides. (47/5. "On the
Depth of the Sea deducible from Tidal Observations" ("Proc. Irish Acad."
Volume VI., page 354, 1853-54).) I shall be surprised if this turns out
true by soundings.
I thought your mind was expanding so much in regard to time that you would
have been going ahead in regard to the possibility of mountain-chains being
created in a fraction of the period required to convert a swan into a
goose, or vice versa. Nine feet did the Rimutaka chain of New Zealand gain
in height in January, 1855, and a great earthquake has occurred in New
Zealand every seven years for half a century nearly. The "Washingtonia"
(Californian conifer) (47/6. Washingtonia, or Wellingtonia, better known
as Sequoia. Asa Gray, writing in 1872, states his belief that "no Sequoia
now alive can sensibly antedate the Christian era" ("Scientific Papers,"
II., page 144).) lately exhibited was four thousand years old, so that one
individual might see a chain of hills rise, and rise with it, much [more] a
species--and those islands which J. Hooker describes as covered with New
Zealand plants three hundred (?) miles to the N.E. (?) of New Zealand may
have been separated from the mainland two or three or four generations of
If the identity of the land-shells of all the hundreds of British Isles be
owing to their having been united since the Glacial period, and the
discordance, almost total, of the shells of Porto Santo and Madeira be
owing to their having been separated [during] all the newer and possibly
older Pliocene periods, then it gives us a conception of time which will
aid you much in your conversion of species, if immensity of time will do
all you require; for the Glacial period is thus shown, as we might have
anticipated, to be contemptible in duration or in distance from us, as
compared to the older Pliocene, let alone the Miocene, when our
contemporary species were, though in a minority, already beginning to
The littoral shells, according to MacAndrew, imply that Madeira and the
Canaries were once joined to the mainland of Europe or Africa, but that
those isles were disjoined so long ago that most of the species came in
since. In short, the marine shells tell the same story as the land shells.
Why do the plants of Porto Santo and Madeira agree so nearly? And why do
the shells which are the same as European or African species remain quite
unaltered, like the Crag species, which returned unchanged to the British
seas after being expelled from them by glacial cold, when two millions (?)
of years had elapsed, and after such migration to milder seas? Be so good
as to explain all this in your next letter.
LETTER 48. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, July 5th .
I write this morning in great tribulation about Tristan d'Acunha. (48/1.
See "Flora Antarctica," page 216. Though Tristan d'Acunha is "only 1,000
miles distant from the Cape of Good Hope, and 3,000 from the Strait of
Magalhaens, the botany of this island is far more intimately allied to that
of Fuegia than Africa.") The more I reflect on your Antarctic flora the
more I am astounded. You give all the facts so clearly and fully, that it
is impossible to help speculating on the subject; but it drives me to
despair, for I cannot gulp down your continent; and not being able to do so
gives, in my eyes, the multiple creationists an awful triumph. It is a
wondrous case, and how strange that A. De Candolle should have ignored it;
which he certainly has, as it seems to me. I wrote Lyell a long geological
letter (48/2. "Life and Letters," II., page 74.) about continents, and I
have had a very long and interesting answer; but I cannot in the least
gather his opinion about all your continental extensionists; and I have
written again beseeching a verdict. (48/3. In the tenth edition of the
"Principles," 1872, Lyell added a chapter (Chapter XLI., page 406) on
insular floras and faunas in relation to the origin of species; he here
(page 410) gives his reasons against Forbes as an extensionist.) I asked
him to send to you my letter, for as it was well copied it would not be
troublesome to read; but whether worth reading I really do not know; I have
given in it the reasons which make me strongly opposed to continental
I was very glad to get your note some days ago: I wish you would think it
worth while, as you intend to have the Laburnum case translated, to write
to "Wien" (that unknown place) (48/4. There is a tradition that Darwin
once asked Hooker where "this place Wien is, where they publish so many
books."), and find out how the Laburnum has been behaving: it really ought
to be known.
The Entada is a beast. (48/5. The large seeds of Entada scandens are
occasionally floated across the Atlantic and cast on the shores of
Europe.); I have never differed from you about the growth of a plant in a
new island being a FAR harder trial than transportal, though certainly that
seems hard enough. Indeed I suspect I go even further than you in this
respect; but it is too long a story.
Thank you for the Aristolochia and Viscum cases: what species were they?
I ask, because oddly these two very genera I have seen advanced as
instances (I forget at present by whom, but by good men) in which the
agency of insects was absolutely necessary for impregnation. In our
British dioecious Viscum I suppose it must be necessary. Was there
anything to show that the stigma was ready for pollen in these two cases?
for it seems that there are many cases in which pollen is shed long before
the stigma is ready. As in our Viscum, insects carry, sufficiently
regularly for impregnation, pollen from flower to flower, I should think
that there must be occasional crosses even in an hermaphrodite Viscum. I
have never heard of bees and butterflies, only moths, producing fertile
eggs without copulation.
With respect to the Ray Society, I profited so enormously by its publishing
my Cirrepedia, that I cannot quite agree with you on confining it to
translations; I know not how else I could possibly have published.
I have just sent in my name for 20 pounds to the Linnaean Society, but I
must confess I have done it with heavy groans, whereas I daresay you gave
your 20 pounds like a light-hearted gentleman...
P.S. Wollaston speaks strongly about the intermediate grade between two
varieties in insects and mollusca being often rarer than the two varieties
themselves. This is obviously very important for me, and not easy to
explain. I believe I have had cases from you. But, if you believe in
this, I wish you would give me a sentence to quote from you on this head.
There must, I think, be a good deal of truth in it; otherwise there could
hardly be nearly distinct varieties under any species, for we should have
instead a blending series, as in brambles and willows.
LETTER 49. TO J.D. HOOKER.
July 13th, 1856.
What a book a devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful,
blundering, low, and horribly cruel works of nature! With respect to
crossing, from one sentence in your letter I think you misunderstand me. I
am very far from believing in hybrids: only in crossing of the same
species or of close varieties. These two or three last days I have been
observing wheat, and have convinced myself that L. Deslongchamps is in
error about impregnation taking place in closed flowers; i.e., of course, I
can judge only from external appearances. By the way, R. Brown once told
me that the use of the brush on stigma of grasses was unknown. Do you know
You say most truly about multiple creations and my notions. If any one
case could be proved, I should be smashed; but as I am writing my book, I
try to take as much pains as possible to give the strongest cases opposed
to me, and often such conjectures as occur to me. I have been working your
books as the richest (and vilest) mine against me; and what hard work I
have had to get up your New Zealand Flora! As I have to quote you so
often, I should like to refer to Muller's case of the Australian Alps.
Where is it published? Is it a book? A correct reference would be enough
for me, though it is wrong even to quote without looking oneself. I should
like to see very much Forbes's sheets, which you refer to; but I must
confess (I hardly know why) I have got rather to mistrust poor dear Forbes.
There is wonderful ill logic in his famous and admirable memoir on
distribution, as it appears to me, now that I have got it up so as to give
the heads in a page. Depend on it, my saying is a true one--viz. that a
compiler is a great man, and an original man a commonplace man. Any fool
can generalise and speculate; but oh, my heavens, to get up at second hand
a New Zealand Flora, that is work...
And now I am going to beg almost as great a favour as a man can beg of
another: and I ask some five or six weeks before I want the favour done,
that it may appear less horrid. It is to read, but well copied out, my
pages (about forty!!) on Alpine floras and faunas, Arctic and Antarctic
floras and faunas, and the supposed cold mundane period. It would be
really an enormous advantage to me, as I am sure otherwise to make
botanical blunders. I would specify the few points on which I most want
your advice. But it is quite likely that you may object on the ground that
you might be publishing before me (I hope to publish in a year at
furthest), so that it would hamper and bother you; and secondly you may
object to the loss of time, for I daresay it would take an hour and a half
to read. It certainly would be of immense advantage to me; but of course
you must not think of doing it if it would interfere with your own work.
I do not consider this request in futuro as breaking my promise to give no
more trouble for some time.
From Lyell's letters, he is coming round at a railway pace on the
mutability of species, and authorises me to put some sentences on this head
in my preface.
I shall meet Lyell on Wednesday at Lord Stanhope's, and will ask him to
forward my letter to you; though, as my arguments have not struck him, they
cannot have force, and my head must be crotchety on the subject; but the
crotchets keep firmly there. I have given your opinion on continuous land,
I see, too strongly.
LETTER 50. TO S.P. WOODWARD.
Down, July 18th .
Very many thanks for your kindness in writing to me at such length, and I
am glad to say for your sake that I do not see that I shall have to beg any
further favours. What a range and what a variability in the Cyrena!
(50/1. A genus of Lamellibranchs ranging from the Lias to the present
day.) Your list of the ranges of the land and fresh-water shells certainly
is most striking and curious, and especially as the antiquity of four of
them is so clearly shown.
I have got Harvey's seaside book, and liked it; I was not particularly
struck with it, but I will re-read the first and last chapters.
I am growing as bad as the worst about species, and hardly have a vestige
of belief in the permanence of species left in me; and this confession will
make you think very lightly of me, but I cannot help it. Such has become
my honest conviction, though the difficulties and arguments against such
heresy are certainly most weighty.
LETTER 51. TO C. LYELL.
November 10th .
I know you like all cases of negative geological evidence being upset. I
fancied that I was a most unwilling believer in negative evidence; but yet
such negative evidence did seem to me so strong that in my "Fossil
Lepadidae" I have stated, giving reasons, that I did not believe there
could have existed any sessile cirripedes during the Secondary ages. Now,
the other day Bosquet of Maestricht sends me a perfect drawing of a perfect
Chthamalus (a recent genus) from the Chalk! (51/1. Chthamalus, a genus of
Cirripedia. ("A Monograph on the Sub-class Cirripedia," by Charles Darwin,
page 447. London, 1854.) A fossil species of this genus of Upper
Cretaceous age was named by Bosquet Chthamalus Darwini. See "Origin,"
Edition VI., page 284; also Zittel, "Traite de Paleontologie," Traduit par
Dr. C. Barrois, Volume II., page 540, figure 748. Paris, 1887.) Indeed,
it is stretching a point to make it specifically distinct from our living
British species. It is a genus not hitherto found in any Tertiary bed.
LETTER 52. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
Down, July 9th, 1857.
I am extremely much obliged to you for having so fully entered on my point.
I knew I was on unsafe ground, but it proves far unsafer than I had
thought. I had thought that Brulle (52/1. This no doubt refers to A.
Brulle's paper in the "Comptes rendus" 1844, of which a translation is
given in the "Annals and Mag. of Natural History," 1844, page 484. In
speaking of the development of the Articulata, the author says "that the
appendages are manifested at an earlier period of the existence of an
Articulate animal the more complex its degree of organisation, and vice
versa that they make their appearance the later, the fewer the number of
transformations which it has to undergo.") had a wider basis for his
generalisation, for I made the extract several years ago, and I presume (I
state it as some excuse for myself) that I doubted it, for, differently
from my general habit, I have not extracted his grounds. It was meeting
with Barneoud's paper which made me think there might be truth in the
doctrine. (52/2. Apparently Barneoud "On the Organogeny of Irregular
Corollas," from the "Comptes rendus," 1847, as given in "Annals and Mag. of
Natural History," 1847, page 440. The paper chiefly deals with the fact
that in their earliest condition irregular flowers are regular. The view
attributed to Barneoud does not seem so definitely given in this paper as
in a previous one ("Ann. Sc. Nat." Bot., Tom. VI., page 268.) Your
instance of heart and brain of fish seems to me very good. It was a very
stupid blunder on my part not thinking of the posterior part of the time of
development. I shall, of course, not allude to this subject, which I
rather grieve about, as I wished it to be true; but, alas! a scientific man
ought to have no wishes, no affections--a mere heart of stone.
There is only one point in your letter which at present I cannot quite
follow you in: supposing that Barneoud's (I do not say Brulle's) remarks
were true and universal--i.e., that the petals which have to undergo the
greatest amount of development and modification begin to change the soonest
from the simple and common embryonic form of the petal--if this were a true
law, then I cannot but think that it would throw light on Milne Edwards'
proposition that the wider apart the classes of animals are, the sooner do
they diverge from the common embryonic plan--which common embryonic [plan]
may be compared with the similar petals in the early bud, the several
petals in one flower being compared to the distinct but similar embryos of
the different classes. I much wish that you would so far keep this in
mind, that whenever we meet I might hear how far you differ or concur in
this. I have always looked at Barneoud's and Brulle's proposition as only
in some degree analogous.
P.S. I see in my abstract of Milne Edwards' paper, he speaks of "the most
perfect and important organs" as being first developed, and I should have
thought that this was usually synonymous with the most developed or
LETTER 53. TO J.D. HOOKER.
(53/1. The following letter is chiefly of interest as showing the amount
and kind of work required for Darwin's conclusions on "large genera
varying," which occupy no more than two or three pages in the "Origin"
(Edition I., page 55). Some correspondence on the subject is given in the
"Life and Letters," II., pages 102-5.)
Down, August 22nd .
Your handwriting always rejoices the cockles of my heart; though you have
no reason to be "overwhelmed with shame," as I did not expect to hear.
I write now chiefly to know whether you can tell me how to write to Hermann
Schlagenheit (is this spelt right?) (53/2. Schlagintweit.), for I believe
he is returned to England, and he has poultry skins for me from W. Elliot
I am very glad to hear that you have been tabulating some Floras about
varieties. Will you just tell me roughly the result? Do you not find it
takes much time? I am employing a laboriously careful schoolmaster, who
does the tabulating and dividing into two great cohorts, more carefully
than I can. This being so, I should be very glad some time to have Koch,
Webb's Canaries, and Ledebour, and Grisebach, but I do not know even where
Rumelia is. I shall work the British flora with three separate Floras; and
I intend dividing the varieties into two classes, as Asa Gray and Henslow
give the materials, and, further, A. Gray and H.C. Watson have marked for
me the forms, which they consider real species, but yet are very close to
others; and it will be curious to compare results. If it will all hold
good it is very important for me; for it explains, as I think, all
classification, i.e. the quasi-branching and sub-branching of forms, as if
from one root, big genera increasing and splitting up, etc., as you will
perceive. But then comes in, also, what I call a principle of divergence,
which I think I can explain, but which is too long, and perhaps you would
not care to hear. As you have been on this subject, you might like to hear
what very little is complete (for my schoolmaster has had three weeks'
holidays)--only three cases as yet, I see.
593 species in genera of 5 and 593 (odd chance equal) in
upwards have in a thousand genera of 3 and downwards have
species presenting vars. in a thousand presenting vars.
(*53/3. This sentence may be interpreted as follows: The number of
species which present varieties are 134 per thousand in genera of 5 species
and upwards. The result is obtained from tabulation of 593 species.)
Genera with 4 species and With 3 species and downwards
upwards, 150/1000. 114/1000.
With 5 species and upwards With 3 species and downwards
I do not enter into details on omitting introduced plants and very varying
genera, as Rubus, Salix, Rosa, etc., which would make the result more in
I enjoyed seeing Henslow extremely, though I was a good way from well at
the time. Farewell, my dear Hooker: do not forget your visit here some
LETTER 54. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, November 14th .
On Tuesday I will send off from London, whither I go on that day,
Ledebour's three remaining volumes, Grisebach and Cybele, i.e., all that I
have, and most truly am I obliged to you for them. I find the rule, as
yet, of the species varying most in the large genera universal, except in
Miquel's very brief and therefore imperfect list of the Holland flora,
which makes me very anxious to tabulate a fuller flora of Holland. I shall
remain in London till Friday morning, and if quite convenient to send me
two volumes of D.C. Prodromus, I could take them home and tabulate them. I
should think a volume with a large best known natural family, and a volume
with several small broken families would be best, always supposing that the
varieties are conspicuously marked in both. Have you the volume published
by Lowe on Madeira? If so and if any varieties are marked I should much
like to see it, to see if I can make out anything about habitats of vars.
in so small an area--a point on which I have become very curious. I fear
there is no chance of your possessing Forbes and Hancock "British Shells,"
a grand work, which I much wish to tabulate.
Very many thanks for seed of Adlumia cirrhosa, which I will carefully
observe. My notice in the G. Ch. on Kidney Beans (54.1 "On the Agency of
Bees in the Fertilisation of Papilionaceous Flowers" ("Gardeners'
Chronicle," 1857, page 725).) has brought me a curious letter from an
intelligent gardener, with a most remarkable lot of beans, crossed in a
marvellous manner IN THE FIRST GENERATION, like the peas sent to you by
Berkeley and like those experimentalised on by Gartner and by Wiegmann. It
is a very odd case; I shall sow these seeds and see what comes up. How
very odd that pollen of one form should affect the outer coats and size of
the bean produced by pure species!...
LETTER 55. TO J.D. HOOKER.
You know how I work subjects: namely, if I stumble on any general remark,
and if I find it confirmed in any other very distinct class, then I try to
find out whether it is true,--if it has any bearing on my work. The
following, perhaps, may be important to me. Dr. Wight remarks that
Cucurbitaceae (55/1. Wight, "Remarks on the Fruit of the Natural Order
Cucurbitaceae" ("Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist." VIII., page 261). R. Wight, F.R.S.
(1796-1872) was Superintendent of the Madras Botanic Garden.) is a very
isolated family, and has very diverging affinities. I find, strongly put
and illustrated, the very same remark in the genera of hymenoptera. Now,
it is not to me at first apparent why a very distinct and isolated group
should be apt to have more divergent affinities than a less isolated group.
I am aware that most genera have more affinities than in two ways, which
latter, perhaps, is the commonest case. I see how infinitely vague all
this is; but I should very much like to know what you and Mr. Bentham (if
he will read this), who have attended so much to the principles of
classification, think of this. Perhaps the best way would be to think of
half a dozen most isolated groups of plants, and then consider whether the
affinities point in an unusual number of directions. Very likely you may
think the whole question too vague to be worth consideration.
LETTER 56. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, April 8th .
I now want to ask your opinion, and for facts on a point; and as I shall
often want to do this during the next year or two, so let me say, once for
all, that you must not take trouble out of mere good nature (of which
towards me you have a most abundant stock), but you must consider, in
regard to the trouble any question may take, whether you think it worth
while--as all loss of time so far lessens your original work--to give me
facts to be quoted on your authority in my work. Do not think I shall be
disappointed if you cannot spare time; for already I have profited
enormously from your judgment and knowledge. I earnestly beg you to act as
I suggest, and not take trouble solely out of good-nature.
My point is as follows: Harvey gives the case of Fucus varying remarkably,
and yet in same way under most different conditions. D. Don makes same
remark in regard to Juncus bufonius in England and India. Polygala
vulgaris has white, red, and blue flowers in Faroe, England, and I think
Herbert says in Zante. Now such cases seem to me very striking, as showing
how little relation some variations have to climatal conditions.
Do you think there are many such cases? Does Oxalis corniculata present
exactly the same varieties under very different climates?
How is it with any other British plants in New Zealand, or at the foot of
the Himalaya? Will you think over this and let me hear the result?
One other question: do you remember whether the introduced Sonchus in New
Zealand was less, equally, or more common than the aboriginal stock of the
same species, where both occurred together? I forget whether there is any
other case parallel with this curious one of the Sonchus...
I have been making good, though slow, progress with my book, for facts have
been falling nicely into groups, enlightening each other.
LETTER 57. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
Moor Park, Farnham, Surrey [1857?].
Your letter has been forwarded to me here, where I am profiting by a few
weeks' rest and hydropathy. Your letter has interested and amused me much.
I am extremely glad you have taken up the Aphis (57/1. Professor Huxley's
paper on the organic reproduction of Aphis is in the "Trans. Linn. Soc."
XXII. (1858), page 193. Prof. Owen had treated the subject in his
introductory Hunterian lecture "On Parthenogenesis" (1849). His theory
cannot be fully given here. Briefly, he holds that parthenogenesis is due
to the inheritance of a "remnant of spermatic virtue": when the "spermatic
force" or "virtue" is exhausted fresh impregnation occurs. Huxley severely
criticises both Owen's facts and his theory.) question, but, for Heaven's
sake, do not come the mild Hindoo (whatever he may be) to Owen; your father
confessor trembles for you. I fancy Owen thinks much of this doctrine of
his; I never from the first believed it, and I cannot but think that the
same power is concerned in producing aphides without fertilisation, and
producing, for instance, nails on the amputated stump of a man's fingers,
or the new tail of a lizard. By the way, I saw somewhere during the last
week or so a statement of a man rearing from the same set of eggs winged
and wingless aphides, which seemed new to me. Does not some Yankee say
that the American viviparous aphides are winged? I am particularly glad
that you are ruminating on the act of fertilisation: it has long seemed to
me the most wonderful and curious of physiological problems. I have often
and often speculated for amusement on the subject, but quite fruitlessly.
Do you not think that the conjugation of the Diatomaceae will ultimately
throw light on the subject? But the other day I came to the conclusion
that some day we shall have cases of young being produced from spermatozoa
or pollen without an ovule. Approaching the subject from the side which
attracts me most, viz., inheritance, I have lately been inclined to
speculate, very crudely and indistinctly, that propagation by true
fertilisation will turn out to be a sort of mixture, and not true fusion,
of two distinct individuals, or rather of innumerable individuals, as each
parent has its parents and ancestors. I can understand on no other view
the way in which crossed forms go back to so large an extent to ancestral
forms. But all this, of course, is infinitely crude. I hope to be in
London in the course of this month, and there are two or three points
which, for my own sake, I want to discuss briefly with you.
LETTER 58. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
Down, September 26th .
Thanks for your very pleasant note. It amuses me to see what a bug-bear I
have made myself to you; when having written some very pungent and good
sentence it must be very disagreeable to have my face rise up like an ugly
ghost. (58/1. This probably refers to Darwin's wish to moderate a certain
pugnacity in Huxley.) I have always suspected Agassiz of superficiality
and wretched reasoning powers; but I think such men do immense good in
their way. See how he stirred up all Europe about glaciers. By the way,
Lyell has been at the glaciers, or rather their effects, and seems to have
done good work in testing and judging what others have done...
In regard to classification and all the endless disputes about the "Natural
System," which no two authors define in the same way, I believe it ought,
in accordance to my heterodox notions, to be simply genealogical. But as
we have no written pedigrees you will, perhaps, say this will not help
much; but I think it ultimately will, whenever heterodoxy becomes
orthodoxy, for it will clear away an immense amount of rubbish about the
value of characters, and will make the difference between analogy and
homology clear. The time will come, I believe, though I shall not live to
see it, when we shall have very fairly true genealogical trees of each
great kingdom of Nature.
LETTER 59. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
Down, December 16th .
In my opinion your Catalogue (59/1. It appears from a letter to Sir J.D.
Hooker (December 25th, 1857) that the reference is to the proofs of
Huxley's "Explanatory Preface to the Catalogue of the Palaeontological
Collection in the Museum of Practical Geology," by T.H. Huxley and R.
Etheridge, 1865. Mr. Huxley appends a note at page xlix: "It should be
noted that these pages were written before the appearance of Mr. Darwin's
book on 'The Origin of Species'--a work which has effected a revolution in
biological speculation.") is simply the very best resume, by far, on the
whole science of Natural History, which I have ever seen. I really have no
criticisms: I agree with every word. Your metaphors and explanations
strike me as admirable. In many parts it is curious how what you have
written agrees with what I have been writing, only with the melancholy
difference for me that you put everything in twice as striking a manner as
I do. I append, more for the sake of showing that I have attended to the
whole than for any other object, a few most trivial criticisms.
I was amused to meet with some of the arguments, which you advanced in talk
with me, on classification; and it pleases me, [that] my long proses were
so far not thrown away, as they led you to bring out here some good
sentences. But on classification (59/2. This probably refers to Mr.
Huxley's discussion on "Natural Classification," a subject hardly
susceptible of fruitful treatment except from an evolutionary standpoint.)
I am not quite sure that I yet wholly go with you, though I agree with
every word you have here said. The whole, I repeat, in my opinion is
admirable and excellent.
LETTER 60. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, February 28th .
Hearty thanks for De Candolle received. I have put the big genera in hand.
Also many thanks for your valuable remarks on the affinities of the species
in great genera, which will be of much use to me in my chapter on
classification. Your opinion is what I had expected from what little I
knew, but I much wanted it confirmed, and many of your remarks were more or
less new to me and all of value.
You give a poor picture of the philosophy of Botany. From my ignorance, I
suppose, I can hardly persuade myself that things are quite as bad as you
make them,--you might have been writing remarks on Ornithology! I shall
meditate much on your remarks, which will also come in very useful when I
write and consider my tables of big and small genera. I grieve for myself
to say that Watson agrees with your view, but with much doubt. I gave him
no guide what your opinion was. I have written to A. Gray and to X., who--
i.e. the latter--on this point may be looked at as S. Smith's Foolometer.
I am now working several of the large local Floras, with leaving out
altogether all the smallest genera. When I have done this, and seen what
the sections of the largest genera say, and seen what the results are of
range and commonness of varying species, I must come to some definite
conclusion whether or not entirely to give up the ghost. I shall then show
how my theory points, how the facts stand, then state the nature of your
grievous assault and yield entirely or defend the case as far as I can
Again I thank you for your invaluable assistance. I have not felt the blow
[Hooker's criticisms] so much of late, as I have been beyond measure
interested on the constructive instinct of the hive-bee. Adios, you
terrible worrier of poor theorists!
LETTER 61. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Many thanks for Ledebour and still more for your letter, with its admirable
resume of all your objections. It is really most kind of you to take so
very much trouble about what seems to you, and probably is, mere vagaries.
I will earnestly try and be cautious. I will write out my tables and
conclusion, and (when well copied out) I hope you will be so kind as to
read it. I will then put it by and after some months look at it with fresh
eyes. I will briefly work in all your objections and Watson's. I labour
under a great difficulty from feeling sure that, with what very little
systematic work I have done, small genera were more interesting and
therefore more attracted my attention.
One of your remarks I do not see the bearing of under your point of view--
namely, that in monotypic genera "the variation and variability" are "much
more frequently noticed" than in polytypic genera. I hardly like to ask,
but this is the only one of your arguments of which I do not see the
bearing; and I certainly should be very glad to know. I believe I am the
slowest (perhaps the worst) thinker in England; and I now consequently
fully admit the full hostility of Urticaceae, which I will give in my
I will make no remarks on your objections, as I do hope you will read my
MS., which will not cost you much trouble when fairly copied out. From my
own experience, I hardly believe that the most sagacious observers, without
counting, could have predicted whether there were more or fewer recorded
varieties in large or small genera; for I found, when actually making the
list, that I could never strike a balance in my mind,--a good many
varieties occurring together, in small or in large genera, always threw me
off the balance...
P.S.--I have just thought that your remark about the much variation of
monotypic genera was to show me that even in these, the smallest genera,
there was much variability. If this be so, then do not answer; and I will
so understand it.
LETTER 62. TO J.D. HOOKER.
February 23rd .
Will you think of some of the largest genera with which you are well
acquainted, and then suppose 4/5 of the species utterly destroyed and
unknown in the sections (as it were) as much as possible in the centre of
such great genera. Then would the remaining 1/5 of the species, forming a
few sections, be, according to the general practice of average good
Botanists, ranked as distinct genera? Of course they would in that case be
closely related genera. The question, in fact, is, are all the species in
a gigantic genus kept together in that genus, because they are really so
very closely similar as to be inseparable? or is it because no chasms or
boundaries can be drawn separating the many species? The question might
have been put for Orders.
LETTER 63. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, February 9th .
I should be very much obliged for your opinion on the enclosed. You may
remember in the three first volumes tabulated, all orders went right except
Labiatae. By the way, if by any extraordinary chance you have not thrown
away the scrap of paper with former results, I wish you would return it,
for I have lost my copy, and I shall have all the division to do again; but
DO NOT hunt for it, for in any case I should have gone over the calculation
Now I have done the three other volumes. You will see that all species in
the six volumes together go right, and likewise all orders in the three
last volumes, except Verbenaceae. Is not Verbenaceae very closely allied
to Labiatae? If so, one would think that it was not mere chance, this
coincidence. The species in Labiatae and Verbenaceae together are between
1/5 and 1/6 of all the species (15,645), which I have now tabulated.
Now, bearing in mind the many local Floras which I have tabulated (belting
the whole northern hemisphere), and considering that they (and authors of
D.C. Prodromus) would probably take different degrees of care in recording
varieties, and the genera would be divided on different principles by
different men, etc., I am much surprised at the uniformity of the result,
and I am satisfied that there must be truth in the rule that the small
genera vary less than the large. What do you think? Hypothetically I can
conjecture how the Labiatae might fail--namely, if some small divisions of
the Order were now coming into importance in the world and varying much and
making species. This makes me want to know whether you could divide the
Labiatae into a few great natural divisions, and then I would tabulate them
separately as sub-orders. I see Lindley makes so many divisions that there
would not be enough in each for an average. I send the table of the
Labiatae for the chance of your being able to do this for me. You might
draw oblique lines including and separating both large and small genera. I
have also divided all the species into two equal masses, and my rule holds
good for all the species in a mass in the six volumes; but it fails in
several (four) large Orders--viz. Labiatae, Scrophulariaceae, Acanthaceae,
and Proteaceae. But, then, when the species are divided into two almost
exactly equal divisions, the divisions with large genera are so very few:
for instance, in Solanaceae, Solanum balances all others. In Labiatae
seven gigantic genera balance all others (viz. 113), and in Proteaceae five
genera balance all others. Now, according to my hypothetical notions, I am
far from supposing that all genera go on increasing forever, and therefore
I am not surprised at this result, when the division is so made that only a
very few genera are on one side. But, according to my notions, the
sections or sub-genera of the gigantic genera ought to obey my rule (i.e.,
supposing a gigantic genus had come to its maximum, whatever increase was
still going on ought to be going on in the larger sub-genera). Do you
think that the sections of the gigantic genera in D.C. Prodromus are
generally NATURAL: i.e. not founded on mere artificial characters? If you
think that they are generally made as natural as they can be, then I should
like very much to tabulate the sub-genera, considering them for the time as
good genera. In this case, and if you do not think me unreasonable to ask
it, I should be very glad of the loan of Volumes X., XI., XII., and XIV.,
which include Acanthaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Labiatae, and Proteaceae,--
that is, the orders which, when divided quite equally, do not accord with
my rule, and in which a very few genera balance all the others.
I have written you a tremendous long prose.
LETTER 64. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, June 8th .
I am confined to the sofa with boils, so you must let me write in pencil.
You would laugh if you could know how much your note pleased me. I had the
firmest conviction that you would say all my MS. was bosh, and thank God,
you are one of the few men who dare speak the truth. Though I should not
have much cared about throwing away what you have seen, yet I have been
forced to confess to myself that all was much alike, and if you condemned
that you would condemn all my life's work, and that I confess made me a
little low; but I could have borne it, for I have the conviction that I
have honestly done my best. The discussion comes in at the end of the long
chapter on variation in a state of nature, so that I have discussed, as far
as I am able, what to call varieties. I will try to leave out all allusion
to genera coming in and out in this part, till when I discuss the
"Principle of Divergence," which, with "Natural Selection," is the keystone
of my book; and I have very great confidence it is sound. I would have
this discussion copied out, if I could really think it would not bore you
to read,--for, believe me, I value to the full every word of criticism from
you, and the advantage which I have derived from you cannot be told...
I am glad to hear that poor old Brown is dying so easily...
You will think it paltry, but as I was asked to pay for printing the
Diploma [from a Society of which he had been made an honorary member], I
did not like to refuse, so I send 1 pound. But I think it a shabby
proceeding. If a gentleman did me some service, though unasked to do it,
and then demanded payment, I should pay him, and think him a shabby dog;
and on this principle I send my 1 pound.
(65/1. The following four letters refer to an inquiry instituted in 1858
by the Trustees of the British Museum as to the disposal of the Natural
History Collections. The inquiry was one of the first steps towards the
establishment of the Cromwell Road Museum, which was effected in 1875.)
LETTER 65. TO R.I. MURCHISON.
Down, June 19th .
I have just received your note. Unfortunately I cannot attend at the
British Museum on Monday. I do not suppose my opinion on the subject of
your note can be of any value, as I have not much considered the subject,
or had the advantage of discussing it with other naturalists. But my
impression is, that there is much weight in what you say about not breaking
up the natural history collection of the British Museum. I think a
national collection ought to be in London. I can, however, see that some
weighty arguments might be advanced in favour of Kew, owing to the immense
value of Sir W. Hooker's collection and library; but these are private
property, and I am not aware that there is any certainty of their always
remaining at Kew. Had this been the case, I should have thought that the
botanical collection might have been removed there without endangering the
other branches of the collections. But I think it would be the greatest
evil which could possibly happen to natural science in this country if the
other collections were ever to be removed from the British Museum and
LETTER 66. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
(66/1. The memorial referred to in the following letter was addressed on
November 18th to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was signed by Huxley,
Bentham, W.H. Harvey, Henfrey, Henslow, Lindley, Busk, Carpenter, and
Darwin. The memorial, which is accessible, as published in the "Gardeners'
Chronicle," November 27th, 1858, page 861, recommended, speaking generally,
the consolidation of the National Botanical collections at Kew.
In February, 1900, a Committee was appointed by the Lords Commissioners of
the Treasury "to consider the present arrangements under which botanical
work is done and collections maintained by the Trustees of the British
Museum, and under the First Commissioner of Works at Kew, respectively; and
to report what changes (if any) in those arrangements are necessary or
desirable in order to avoid duplication of work and collections at the two
institutions." The Committee published their report in March, 1901,
recommending an arrangement similar to that proposed in 1858.)
Down, October 23rd .
The names which you give as supporting your memorial make me quite distrust
my own judgment; but, as I must say yea or nay, I am forced to say that I
doubt the wisdom of the movement, and am not willing at present to sign.
My reasons, perhaps of very little value, are as follows. The governing
classes are thoroughly unscientific, and the men of art and of archaeology
have much greater weight with Government than we have. If we make a move
to separate from the British Museum, I cannot but fear that we may go to
the dogs. I think we owe our position in large part to the hundreds of
thousands of people who visit the British Museum, attracted by the
heterogeneous mixture of objects. If we lost this support, as I think we
should--for a mere collection of animals does not seem very attractive to
the masses (judging from the Museum of the Zoological Society, formerly in
Leicester Square)--then I do not think we should get nearly so much aid
from Government. Therefore I should be inclined to stick to the mummies
and Assyrian gods as long as we could. If we knew that Government was
going to turn us out, then, and not till then, I should be inclined to make
an energetic move. If we were to separate, I do not believe that we should
have funds granted for the many books required for occasional reference:
each man must speak from his own experience. I have so repeatedly required
to see old Transactions and old Travels, etc., that I should regret
extremely, when at work at the British Museum, to be separated from the
entire library. The facilities for working at certain great classes--as
birds, large fossils, etc.--are no doubt as bad as possible, or rather
impossible, on the open days; but I have found the working rooms of the
Assistants very convenient for all other classes on all days.
In regard to the botanical collections, I am too ignorant to express any
opinion. The point seems to be how far botanists would object to travel to
Kew; but there are evidently many great advantages in the transportation.
If I had my own way, I would make the British Museum collection only a
typical one for display, which would be quite as amusing and far more
instructive to the populace (and I think to naturalists) than the present
enormous display of birds and mammals. I would save expense of stuffing,
and would keep all skins, except a few "typicals," in drawers. Thus much
room would be saved, and a little more space could be given to real
workers, who could work all day. Rooms fitted up with thousands of drawers
would cost very little. With this I should be contented. Until I had
pretty sure information that we were going to be turned out, I would not
stir in the matter. With such opponents as you name, I daresay I am quite
wrong; but this is my best, though doubtful, present judgment...
It seems to me dangerous even to hint at a new Scientific Museum--a popular
Museum, and to subsidise the Zoological Gardens; it would, I think,
frighten any Government.
LETTER 67. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Moor Park, Farnham, Surrey [October] 29th .
As you say that you have good private information that Government does
intend to remove the collection from the British Museum, the case to me
individually is wholly changed; and as the memorial now stands, with such
expression at its head, I have no objection whatever to sign. I must
express a very strong opinion that it would be an immense evil to remove to
Kensington, not on account of the men of science so much as for the masses
in the whole eastern and central part of London. I further think it would
be a great evil to separate a typical collection (which I can by no means
look at as only popular) from the collection in full. Might not some
expression be added, even stronger than those now used, on the display
(which is a sort of vanity in the curators) of such a vast number of birds
and mammals, with such a loss of room. I am low at the conviction that
Government will never give money enough for a really good library.
I do not want to be crotchety, but I should hate signing without some
expression about the site being easily accessible to the populace of the
whole of London.
I repeat, as things now stand, I shall be proud to sign.
LETTER 68. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
Down, November 3rd .
I most entirely subscribe to all you say in your note. I have had some
correspondence with Hooker on the subject. As it seems certain that a
movement in the British Museum is generally anticipated, my main objection
is quite removed; and, as I have told Hooker, I have no objection whatever
to sign a memorial of the nature of the one he sent me or that now
returned. Both seem to me very good. I cannot help being fearful whether
Government will ever grant money enough for books. I can see many
advantages in not being under the unmotherly wing of art and archaeology,
and my only fear was that we were not strong enough to live without some
protection, so profound, I think, is the contempt for and ignorance of
Natural Science amongst the gentry of England. Hooker tells me that I
should be converted into favour of Kensington Gore if I heard all that
could be said in its favour; but I cannot yet help thinking so western a
locality a great misfortune. Has Lyell been consulted? His would be a
powerful name, and such names go for much with our ignorant Governors. You
seem to have taken much trouble in the business, and I honour you for it.
LETTER 69. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, November 9th .
I am quite delighted to hear about the Copley and Lyell. (69/1. The
Copley Medal of the Royal Society was awarded to Lyell in 1858.) I have
grown hot with indignation many times thinking of the way the proposal was
met last year, according to your account of it. I am also very glad to
hear of Hancock (Albany Hancock received a Royal Medal in 1858.); it will
show the provincials are not neglected. Altogether the medals are capital.
I shall be proud and bound to help in any way about the eloge, which is
rather a heavy tax on proposers of medals, as I found about Richardson and
Westwood; but Lyell's case will be twenty times as difficult. I will begin
this very evening dotting down a few remarks on Lyell; though, no doubt,
most will be superfluous, and several would require deliberate
consideration. Anyhow, such notes may be a preliminary aid to you; I will
send them in a few days' time, and will do anything else you may wish...
P.S.--I have had a letter from Henslow this morning. He comes here on
[Thursday] 25th, and I shall be delighted to see him; but it stops my
coming to the Club, as I had arranged to do, and now I suppose I shall not
be in London till December 16th, if odds and ends do not compel me to come
sooner. Of course I have not said a word to Henslow of my change of plans.
I had looked forward with pleasure to a chat with you and others.
P.S. 2.--I worked all yesterday evening in thinking, and have written the
paper sent by this post this morning. Not one sentence would do, but it is
the sort of rough sketch which I should have drawn out if I had had to do
it. God knows whether it will at all aid you. It is miserably written,
with horridly bad metaphors, probably horrid bad grammar. It is my
deliberate impression, such as I should have written to any friend who had
asked me what I thought of Lyell's merits. I will do anything else which
you may wish, or that I can.
LETTER 70. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, December 30th .
I have had this copied to save you trouble, as it was vilely written, and
is now vilely expressed.
Your letter has interested me greatly; but how inextricable are the
subjects which we are discussing! I do not think I said that I thought the
productions of Asia were HIGHER (70/1. On the use of the terms "higher"
and "lower" see Letters 35 and 36.) than those of Australia. I intend
carefully to avoid this expression (70/2. In a paper of pencilled notes
pinned into Darwin's copy of the "Vestiges" occur the words: "Never use
the word (sic) higher and lower."), for I do not think that any one has a
definite idea what is meant by higher, except in classes which can loosely
be compared with man. On our theory of Natural Selection, if the organisms
of any area belonging to the Eocene or Secondary periods were put into
competition with those now existing in the same area (or probably in any
part of the world) they (i.e. the old ones) would be beaten hollow and be
exterminated; if the theory be true, this must be so. In the same manner,
I believe, a greater number of the productions of Asia, the largest
territory in the world, would beat those of Australia, than conversely. So
it seems to be between Europe and North America, for I can hardly believe
in the difference of the stream of commerce causing so great a difference
in the proportions of immigrants. But this sort of highness (I wish I
could invent some expression, and must try to do so) is different from
highness in the common acceptation of the word. It might be connected with
degradation of organisation: thus the blind degraded worm-like snake
(Typhlops) might supplant the true earthworm. Here then would be
degradation in the class, but certainly increase in the scale of
organisation in the general inhabitants of the country. On the other hand,
it would be quite as easy to believe that true earthworms might beat out
the Typhlops. I do not see how this "competitive highness" can be tested
in any way by us. And this is a comfort to me when mentally comparing the
Silurian and Recent organisms. Not that I doubt a long course of
"competitive highness" will ultimately make the organisation higher in
every sense of the word; but it seems most difficult to test it. Look at
the Erigeron canadensis on the one hand and Anacharis (70/3. Anacharis
(Elodea canadensis) and Erigeron canadensis are both successful immigrants
from America.) on the other; these plants must have some advantage over
European productions, to spread as they have. Yet who could discover it?
Monkeys can co-exist with sloths and opossums, orders at the bottom of the
scale; and the opossums might well be beaten by placental insectivores,
coming from a country where there were no monkeys, etc. I should be sorry
to give up the view that an old and very large continuous territory would
generally produce organisms higher in the competitive sense than a smaller
territory. I may, of course, be quite wrong about the plants of Australia
(and your facts are, of course, quite new to me on their highness), but
when I read the accounts of the immense spreading of European plants in
Australia, and think of the wool and corn brought thence to Europe, and not
one plant naturalised, I can hardly avoid the suspicion that Europe beats
Australia in its productions. If many (i.e. more than one or two)
Australian plants are TRULY naturalised in India (N.B. Naturalisation on
Indian mountains hardly quite fair, as mountains are small islands in the
land) I must strike my colours. I should be glad to hear whether what I
have written very obscurely on this point produces ANY effect on you; for I
want to clear my mind, as perhaps I should put a sentence or two in my
abstract on this subject. (70/4. Abstract was Darwin's name for the
"Origin" during parts of 1858 and 1859.)
I have always been willing to strike my colours on former immense tracts of
land in oceans, if any case required it in an eminent degree. Perhaps
yours may be a case, but at present I greatly prefer land in the Antarctic
regions, where now there is only ice and snow, but which before the Glacial
period might well have been clothed by vegetation. You have thus to invent
far less land, and that more central; and aid is got by floating ice for
I hope I shall not weary you by scribbling my notions at this length.
After writing last to you I began to think that the Malay Land might have
existed through part of the Glacial epoch. Why I at first doubted was from
the difference of existing mammals in different islands; but many are very
close, and some identical in the islands, and I am constantly deceiving
myself from thinking of the little change which the shells and plants,
whilst all co-existing in their own northern hemisphere, have undergone
since the Glacial epoch; but I am convinced that this is most false
reasoning, for the relations of organism to new organisms, when thrown
together, are by far the most important.
When you speak of plants having undergone more change since old geological
periods than animals, are you not rather comparing plants with higher
animals? Think how little some, indeed many, mollusca have changed.
Remember Silurian Nautilus, Lingula and other Brachiopods, and Nucula, and
amongst Echinoderms, the Silurian Asterias, etc.
What you say about lowness of brackish-water plants interests me. I
remember that they are apt to be social (i.e. many individuals in
comparison to specific forms), and I should be tempted to look at this as a
case of a very small area, and consequently of very few individuals in
comparison with those on the land or in pure fresh-water; and hence less
development (odious word!) than on land or fresh-water. But here comes in
your two-edged sword! I should like much to see any paper on plants of
brackish water or on the edge of the sea; but I suppose such has never been
Thanks about Nelumbium, for I think this was the very plant which from the
size of seed astonished me, and which A. De Candolle adduced as a
marvellous case of almost impossible transport. I now find to my surprise
that herons do feed sometimes on [illegible] fruit; and grebes on seeds of
Many thanks for offer of help about a grant for the Abstract; but I should
hope it would sell enough to pay expenses.
I am reading your letter and scribbling as I go on.
Your oak and chestnut case seems very curious; is it not the more so as
beeches have gone to, or come from the south? But I vehemently protest
against you or any one making such cases especial marvels, without you are
prepared to say why each species in any flora is twice or thrice, etc.,
rarer than each other species which grows in the same soil. The more I
think, the more evident is it to me how utterly ignorant we are of the
thousand contingencies on which range, frequency, and extinction of each
I have sometimes thought, from Edentata (70/5. No doubt a slip of the pen
for Monotremata.) and Marsupialia, that Australia retains a remnant of the
former and ancient state of the fauna of the world, and I suppose that you
are coming to some such conclusion for plants; but is not the relation
between the Cape and Australia too special for such views? I infer from
your writings that the relation is too special between Fuegia and Australia
to allow us to look at the resemblances in certain plants as the relics of
mundane resemblances. On the other hand, [have] not the Sandwich Islands
in the Northern Hemisphere some odd relations to Australia? When we are
dead and gone what a noble subject will be Geographical Distribution!
You may say what you like, but you will never convince me that I do not owe
you ten times as much as you can owe me. Farewell, my dear Hooker. I am
sorry to hear that you are both unwell with influenza. Do not bother
yourself in answering anything in this, except your general impression on
the battle between N. and S.
CHAPTER 1.III.--Evolution, 1859-1863.
LETTER 71. TO A.R. WALLACE.
Down, April 6th, 1859.
I this morning received your pleasant and friendly note of November 30th.
The first part of my MS. is in Murray's hands to see if he likes to publish
it. There is no preface, but a short introduction, which must be read by
every one who reads my book. The second paragraph in the introduction
(71/1. "Origin of Species," Edition I., 1859, pages 1 and 2.) I have had
copied verbatim from my foul copy, and you will, I hope, think that I have
fairly noticed your paper in the "Linn. Journal." (71/2. "On the Tendency
of Species to form Varieties, and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and
Species by Natural Means of Selection." By Charles Darwin and Alfred
Russell Wallace. Communicated by Sir Charles Lyell and J.D. Hooker.
"Journ. Linn. Soc." Volume III., page 45, 1859. (Read July 1st, 1858.))
You must remember that I am now publishing only an abstract, and I give no
references. I shall, of course, allude to your paper on distribution
(71/3. "On the Law which has regulated the Introduction of New Species"
(A.R. Wallace). "Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist." Volume XVI., page 184, 1855. The
law alluded to is thus stated by Wallace: "Every species has come into
existence coincident both in space and time with a pre-existing closely
allied species" (loc. cit., page 186).); and I have added that I know from
correspondence that your explanation of your law is the same as that which
I offer. You are right, that I came to the conclusion that selection was
the principle of change from the study of domesticated productions; and
then, reading Malthus, I saw at once how to apply this principle.
Geographical distribution and geological relations of extinct to recent
inhabitants of South America first led me to the subject: especially the
case of the Galapagos Islands. I hope to go to press in the early part of
next month. It will be a small volume of about five hundred pages or so.
I will of course send you a copy. I forget whether I told you that Hooker,
who is our best British botanist and perhaps the best in the world, is a
full convert, and is now going immediately to publish his confession of
faith; and I expect daily to see proof-sheets. (71/4. "The Flora of
Australia, etc., an Introductory Essay to the Flora of Tasmania." London
1859.) Huxley is changed, and believes in mutation of species: whether a
convert to us, I do not quite know. We shall live to see all the younger
men converts. My neighbour and an excellent naturalist, J. Lubbock, is an
enthusiastic convert. I see that you are doing great work in the
Archipelago; and most heartily do I sympathise with you. For God's sake
take care of your health. There have been few such noble labourers in the
cause of Natural Science as you are.
P.S. You cannot tell how I admire your spirit, in the manner in which you
have taken all that was done about publishing all our papers. I had
actually written a letter to you, stating that I would not publish anything
before you had published. I had not sent that letter to the post when I
received one from Lyell and Hooker, urging me to send some MS. to them, and
allow them to act as they thought fair and honestly to both of us; and I
(71/5. The following is the passage from the Introduction to the "Origin
of Species," referred to in the first paragraph of the above letter.)
"My work is now nearly finished; but as it will take me two or three years
more to complete it, and as my health is far from strong, I have been urged
to publish this Abstract. I have more especially been induced to do this,
as Mr. Wallace, who is now studying the Natural History of the Malay
Archipelago, has arrived at almost exactly the same general conclusions
that I have on the origin of species. Last year he sent to me a memoir on
this subject, with a request that I would forward it to Sir Charles Lyell,
who sent it to the Linnean Society, and it is published in the third volume
of the Journal of that Society. Sir C. Lyell and Dr. Hooker, who both knew
of my work--the latter having read my sketch of 1844--honoured me by
thinking it advisable to publish, with Mr. Wallace's excellent memoir, some
brief extracts from my manuscripts."
LETTER 72. TO J.D. HOOKER.
Down, May 3rd, 1859.
With respect to reversion, I have been raking up vague recollections of
vague facts; and the impression on my mind is rather more in favour of
reversion than it was when you were here.
In my abstract (72/1. "The Origin of Species.") I give only a paragraph on
the general case of reversion, though I enter in detail on some cases of
reversion of a special character. I have not as yet put all my facts on
this subject in mass, so can come to no definite conclusion. But as single
characters may revert, I must say that I see no improbability in several
reverting. As I do not believe any well-founded experiments or facts are
known, each must form his opinion from vague generalities. I think you
confound two rather distinct considerations; a variation arises from any
cause, and reversion is not opposed to this, but solely to its inheritance.
Not but what I believe what we must call perhaps a dozen distinct laws are
all struggling against each other in every variation which ever arises. To
give my impression, if I were forced to bet whether or not, after a hundred
generations of growth in a poor sandy soil, a cauliflower and red cabbage
would or would not revert to the same form, I must say I would rather stake
my money that they would. But in such a case the conditions of life are
changed (and here comes the question of direct influence of condition), and
there is to be no selection, the comparatively sudden effect of man's
selection are left to the free play of reversion.
In short, I dare not come to any conclusion without comparing all facts
which I have collected, and I do not think there are many.
Please do not say to any one that I thought my book on species would be
fairly popular and have a fairly remunerative sale (which was the height of
my ambition), for if it prove a dead failure it would make me the more
LETTER 73. TO W.H. MILLER.
Down, June 5th .
I thank you much for your letter. Had I seen the interest of my remark I
would have made many more measurements, though I did make several. I
stated the facts merely to give the general reader an idea of the thickness
of the walls. (73/1. The walls of bees' cells: see Letter 173.)
Especially if I had seen that the fact had any general bearing, I should
have stated that as far as I could measure, the walls are by no means
perfectly of the same thickness. Also I should have stated that the chief
difference is when the thickness of walls of the upper part of the hexagon
and of the pyramidal basal plates are contrasted. Will you oblige me by
looking with a strong lens at the bit of comb, brushing off with a knife
the upper thickened edges, and then compare, by eye alone, the thickness of
the walls there with the thickness of the basal plates, as seen in any
cross section. I should very much like to hear whether, even in this way,
the difference is not perceptible. It is generally thus perceptible by
comparing the thickness of the walls of the hexagon (if not taken very
close to the angle) near to the basal plates, where the comparison by eye
is of course easier. Your letter actually turned me sick with panic; from
not seeing any great importance [in the] fact, till I looked at my notes, I
did not remember that I made several measurements. I have now repeated the
same measurements, roughly with the same general results, but the
difference, I think, is hardly double.
I should not have mentioned the thickness of the basal plates at all, had I
not thought it would give an unfair notion of the thickness of the walls to
state the lesser measurements alone.
LETTER 74. TO W.H. MILLER.
I had no thought that you would measure the thickness of the walls of the
cells; but if you will, and allow me to give your measurements, it will be
an immense advantage. As it is no trouble, I send more specimens. If you
measure, please observe that I measured the thickness of the walls of the
hexagonal prisms not very near the base; but from your very interesting
remarks the lower part of the walls ought to be measured.
Thank you for the suggestion about how bees judge of angles and distances.
I will keep it in mind. It is a complete perplexity to me, and yet
certainly insects can rudely somehow judge of distance. There are special
difficulties on account of the gradation in size between the worker-scells
and the larger drone-cells. I am trying to test the case practically by
getting combs of different species, and of our own bee from different
climates. I have lately had some from the W. Indies of our common bee, but
the cells SEEM certainly to be larger; but they have not yet been carefully
measured. I will keep your suggestion in mind whenever I return to
experiments on living bees; but that will not be soon.
As you have been considering my little discussion in relation to Lord
Brougham (74/1. Lord Brougham's paper on "The Mathematical Structure of
Bees' Cells," read before the National Institute of France in May, 1858.),
and as I have been more vituperated for this part than for almost any
other, I should like just to tell you how I think the case stands. The
discussion viewed by itself is worth little more than the paper on which it
is printed, except in so far as it contains three or four certainly new
facts. But to those who are inclined to believe the general truth of the
conclusion that species and their instincts are slowly modified by what I
call Natural Selection, I think my discussion nearly removes a very great
difficulty. I believe in its truth chiefly from the existence of the
Melipona, which makes a comb so intermediate in structure between that of
the humble and hive-bee, and especially from the new and curious fact of
the bees making smooth cups or saucers when they excavated in a thick piece
of wax, which saucers stood so close that hexagons were built on their
intersecting edges. And, lastly, because when they excavated on a thin
slip of wax, the excavation on both sides of similar smooth basins was
stopped, and flat planes left between the nearly opposed basins. If my
view were wholly false these cases would, I think, never have occurred.
Sedgwick and Co. may abuse me to their hearts' content, but I shall as yet
continue to think that mine is a rational explanation (as far as it goes)
of their method of work.
LETTER 75. TO W.H. MILLER.
Down, December 1st .
Some months ago you were so kind as to say you would measure the thickness
of the walls of the basal and side plates of the cell of the bee. Could
you find time to do so soon? Why I want it soon, is that I have lately
heard from Murray that he sold at his sale far more copies than he has of
the "Origin of Species," and that I must immediately prepare a new edition,
which I am now correcting. By the way, I hear from Murray that all the
attacks heaped on my book do not seem to have at all injured the sale,
which will make poor dear old Sedgwick groan. If the basal plates and
walls do differ considerably in thickness, as they certainly did in the one
or two cells which I measured without particular care (as I never thought
the point of any importance), will you tell me the bearing of the fact as
simply as you can, for the chance of one so stupid as I am in geometry
being able to understand?
Would the greater thickness of the basal plates and of the rim of the
hexagons be a good adaptation to carry the vertical weight of the cells
filled with honey and supporting clusters of living bees?
Will you endeavour to screw out time and grant me this favour?
P.S. If the result of your measurement of the thickness of the walls turns
out at all what I have asserted, would it not be worth while to write a
little bit of a paper on the subject of your former note; and "pluck" the
bees if they deserve this degradation? Many mathematicians seem to have
thought the subject worthy of attention. When the cells are full of honey
and hang vertically they have to support a great weight. Can the thicker
basal plates be a contrivance to give strength to the whole comb, with less
consumption of wax, than if all the sides of the hexagons were thickened?
This crude notion formerly crossed my mind; but of course it is beyond me
even to conjecture how the case would be.
A mathematician, Mr. Wright, has been writing on the geometry of bee-cells
in the United States in consequence of my book; but I can hardly understand
his paper. (75/1. Chauncey Wright, "Remarks on the Architecture of Bees"
("Amer. Acad. Proc." IV., 1857-60, page 432.)
LETTER 76. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
(76/1. The date of this letter is unfortunately doubtful, otherwise it
would prove that at an early date he was acquainted with Erasmus Darwin's
views on evolution, a fact which has not always been recognised. We can
hardly doubt that it was written in 1859, for at this time Mr. Huxley was
collecting facts about breeding for his lecture given at the Royal
Institution on February 10th, 1860, on "Species and Races and their
Origin." See "Life and Letters," II., page 281.)
Down [June?] 9 [1859?].
If on the 11th you have half an hour to spare, you might like to see a very
good show of pigeons, and the enclosed card will admit you.
The history of error is quite unimportant, but it is curious to observe how
exactly and accurately my grandfather (in "Zoonomia," Volume I., page 504,
1794) gives Lamarck's theory. I will quote one sentence. Speaking of
birds' beaks, he says: "All which seem to have been gradually produced
during many generations by the perpetual endeavour of the creatures to
supply the want of food, and to have been delivered to their posterity with
constant improvement of them for the purposes required." Lamarck published
"Hist. Zoolog." in 1809. The "Zoonomia" was translated into many
LETTER 77. TO C. LYELL.
Down, 28 [June 1859].
It is not worth while troubling you, but my conscience is uneasy at having
forgotten to thank you for your "Etna" (77/1. "On the Structure of Lavas
which have been consolidated on Steep Slopes, with remarks on the Mode of
Origin of Mount Etna, and on the Theory of 'Craters of Elevation'" ("Phil.
Trans. R. Soc." Volume CXLVIII., 1858, page 703).), which seems to me a
magnificent contribution to volcanic geology, and I should think you might
now rest on your oars in this department.
As soon as ever I can get a copy of my book (77/2. "The Origin of
Species," London, 1859.) ready, in some six weeks' or two months' time, it
shall be sent you; and if you approve of it, even to a moderate extent, it
will be the highest satisfaction which I shall ever receive for an amount
of labour which no one will ever appreciate.
LETTER 78. TO J.D. HOOKER.
(78/1. The reference in the following letter is to the proofs of Hooker's
Down, 28 [July 1859].
The returned sheet is chiefly that which I received in MS. Parts seem to
me (though perhaps it may be forgetfulness) much improved, and I retain my
former impression that the whole discussion on the Australian flora is
admirably good and original. I know you will understand and not object to
my thus expressing my opinion (for one must form one) so presumptuously. I
have no criticisms, except perhaps I should like you somewhere to say, when
you refer to me, that you refer only to the notice in the "Linnean
Journal;" not that, on my deliberate word of honour, I expect that you will
think more favourably of the whole than of the suggestion in the "Journal."
I am far more than satisfied at what you say of my work; yet it would be as
well to avoid the appearance of your remarks being a criticism on my fuller
I am very sorry to hear you are so hard-worked. I also get on very slowly,
and have hardly as yet finished half my volume...I returned on last Tuesday
from a week's hydropathy.
Take warning by me, and do not work too hard. For God's sake, think of
It is dreadfully uphill work with me getting my confounded volume finished.
I wish you well through all your labours. Adios.
LETTER 79. TO ASA GRAY.
Down, November 29th .
This shall be such an extraordinary note as you have never received from
me, for it shall not contain one single question or request. I thank you
for your impression on my views. Every criticism from a good man is of
value to me. What you hint at generally is very, very true: that my work
will be grievously hypothetical, and large parts by no means worthy of
being called induction, my commonest error being probably induction from
too few facts. I had not thought of your objection of my using the term
"natural selection" as an agent. I use it much as a geologist does the
word denudation--for an agent, expressing the result of several combined
actions. I will take care to explain, not merely by inference, what I mean
by the term; for I must use it, otherwise I should incessantly have to
expand it into some such (here miserably expressed) formula as the
following: "The tendency to the preservation (owing to the severe struggle
for life to which all organic beings at some time or generation are
exposed) of any, the slightest, variation in any part, which is of the
slightest use or favourable to the life of the individual which has thus
varied; together with the tendency to its inheritance." Any variation,
which was of no use whatever to the individual, would not be preserved by
this process of "natural selection." But I will not weary you by going on,
as I do not suppose I could make my meaning clearer without large
expansion. I will only add one other sentence: several varieties of sheep
have been turned out together on the Cumberland mountains, and one
particular breed is found to succeed so much better than all the others
that it fairly starves the others to death. I should here say that natural
selection picks out this breed, and would tend to improve it, or
aboriginally to have formed it...
You speak of species not having any material base to rest on, but is this
any greater hardship than deciding what deserves to be called a variety,
and be designated by a Greek letter? When I was at systematic work, I know
I longed to have no other difficulty (great enough) than deciding whether
the form was distinct enough to deserve a name, and not to be haunted with
undefined and unanswerable questions whether it was a true species. What a
jump it is from a well-marked variety, produced by natural cause, to a
species produced by the separate act of the hand of God! But I am running
on foolishly. By the way, I met the other day Phillips, the
palaeontologist, and he asked me, "How do you define a species?" I
answered, "I cannot." Whereupon he said, "at last I have found out the
only true definition,--any form which has ever had a specific name!"...
LETTER 80. TO C. LYELL.
Ilkley, October 31st .
That you may not misunderstand how far I go with Pallas and his many
disciples I should like to add that, though I believe that our domestic
dogs have descended from several wild forms, and though I must think that
the sterility, which they would probably have evinced, if crossed before
being domesticated, has been eliminated, yet I go but a very little way
with Pallas & Co. in their belief in the importance of the crossing and
blending of the aboriginal stocks. (80/1. "With our domesticated animals,
the various races when crossed together are quite fertile; yet in many
cases they are descended from two or more wild species. From this fact we
must conclude either that the aboriginal parent-species at first produced
perfectly fertile hybrids, or that the hybrids subsequently reared under
domestication became quite fertile. This latter alternative, which was
first propounded by Pallas, seems by far the most probable, and can,
indeed, hardly be doubted" ("Origin of Species," Edition VI., page 240).)
You will see this briefly put in the first chapter. Generally, with
respect to crossing, the effects may be diametrically opposite. If you
cross two very distinct races, you may make (not that I believe such has
often been made) a third and new intermediate race; but if you cross two
exceedingly close races, or two slightly different individuals of the same
race, then in fact you annul and obliterate the difference. In this latter
way I believe crossing is all-important, and now for twenty years I have
been working at flowers and insects under this point of view. I do not
like Hooker's terms, centripetal and centrifugal (80/2. Hooker's
"Introductory Essay to the Flora of Tasmania," pages viii. and ix.): they
remind me of Forbes' bad term of Polarity. (80/3. Forbes, "On the
Manifestation of Polarity in the Distribution of Organised Beings in
Time."--"R. Institution Proc." I., 1851-54.)
I daresay selection by man would generally work quicker than Natural
Selection; but the important distinction between them is, that man can
scarcely select except external and visible characters, and secondly, he
selects for his own good; whereas under nature, characters of all kinds are
selected exclusively for each creature's own good, and are well exercised;
but you will find all this in Chapter IV.
Although the hound, greyhound, and bull-dog may possibly have descended
from three distinct stocks, I am convinced that their present great amount
of difference is mainly due to the same causes which have made the breeds
of pigeons so different from each other, though these breeds of pigeons
have all descended from one wild stock; so that the Pallasian doctrine I
look at as but of quite secondary importance.
In my bigger book I have explained my meaning fully; whether I have in the
Abstract I cannot remember.
LETTER 81. TO C. LYELL.
[December 5th, 1859.]
I forget whether you take in the "Times;" for the chance of your not doing
so, I send the enclosed rich letter. (81/1. See the "Times," December 1st
and December 5th, 1859: two letters signed "Senex," dealing with "Works of
Art in the Drift.") It is, I am sure, by Fitz-Roy...It is a pity he did
not add his theory of the extinction of Mastodon, etc., from the door of
the Ark being made too small. (81/2. A postscript to this letter, here
omitted, is published in the "Life and Letters," II., page 240.)
LETTER 82. FRANCIS GALTON TO CHARLES DARWIN.
42, Rutland Gate, London, S.W., December 9th, 1859.
Pray let me add a word of congratulation on the completion of your
wonderful volume, to those which I am sure you will have received from
every side. I have laid it down in the full enjoyment of a feeling that
one rarely experiences after boyish days, of having been initiated into an
entirely new province of knowledge, which, nevertheless, connects itself
with other things in a thousand ways. I hear you are engaged on a second
edition. There is a trivial error in page 68, about rhinoceroses (82/1.
Down (loc. cit.) says that neither the elephant nor the rhinoceros is
destroyed by beasts of prey. Mr. Galton wrote that the wild dogs hunt the
young rhinoceros and "exhaust them to death; they pursue them all day long,
tearing at their ears, the only part their teeth can fasten on." The
reference to the rhinoceros is omitted in later editions of the "Origin."),
which I thought I might as well point out, and have taken advantage of the
same opportunity to scrawl down half a dozen other notes, which may, or may
not, be worthless to you.
(83/1. The three next letters refer to Huxley's lecture on Evolution,
given at the Royal Institution on February 10th, 1860, of which the
peroration is given in "Life and Letters," II., page 282, together with
some letters on the subject.)
LETTER 83. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
November 25th .
I rejoice beyond measure at the lecture. I shall be at home in a
fortnight, when I could send you splendid folio coloured drawings of
pigeons. Would this be in time? If not, I think I could write to my
servants and have them sent to you. If I do NOT hear I shall understand
that about fifteen or sixteen days will be in time.
I have had a kind yet slashing letter against me from poor dear old
Sedgwick, "who has laughed till his sides ached at my book."
Phillips is cautious, but decidedly, I fear, hostile. Hurrah for the
Lecture--it is grand!
LETTER 84. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
Down, December 13th .
I have got fine large drawings (84/1. For Mr. Huxley's R.I. lecture.) of
the Pouter, Carrier, and Tumbler; I have only drawings in books of
Fantails, Barbs, and Scanderoon Runts. If you had them, you would have a
grand display of extremes of diversity. Will they pay at the Royal
Institution for copying on a large size drawings of these birds? I could
lend skulls of a Carrier and a Tumbler (to show the great difference) for
the same purpose, but it would not probably be worth while.
I have been looking at my MS. What you want I believe is about hybridism
and breeding. The chapter on hybridism is in a pretty good state--about
150 folio pages with notes and references on the back. My first chapter on
breeding is in too bad and imperfect a state to send; but my discussion on
pigeons (in about 100 folio pages) is in a pretty good state. I am
perfectly convinced that you would never have patience to read such
volumes of MS. I speak now in the palace of truth, and pray do you: if
you think you would read them I will send them willingly up by my servant,
or bring them myself next week. But I have no copy, and I never could
possibly replace them; and without you really thought that you would use
them, I had rather not risk them. But I repeat I will willingly bring
them, if you think you would have the vast patience to use them. Please
let me hear on this subject, and whether I shall send the book with small
drawings of three other breeds or skulls. I have heard a rumour that Busk
is on our side in regard to species. Is this so? It would be very good.
LETTER 85. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
Down, December 16th .
I thank you for your very pleasant and amusing note and invitation to
dinner, which I am sorry to say I cannot accept. I shall come up (stomach
willing) on Thursday for Phil. Club dinner, and return on Saturday, and I
am engaged to my brother for Friday. But I should very much like to call
at the Museum on Friday or Saturday morning and see you. Would you let me
have one line either here or at 57, Queen Anne Street, to say at what hour
you generally come to the Museum, and whether you will be probably there on
Friday or Saturday? Even if you are at the Club, it will be a mere chance
if we sit near each other.
I will bring up the articles on Thursday afternoon, and leave them under
charge of the porter at the Museum. They will consist of large drawings of
a Pouter, a Carrier, and rather smaller drawings of some sub-varieties
(which breed nearly true) of short-faced Tumblers. Also a small drawing of
Scanderoon, a kind of Runt, and a very remarkable breed. Also a book with
very moderately good drawings of Fantail and Barb, but I very much doubt
whether worth the trouble of enlarging.
Also a box (for Heaven's sake, take care!) with a skull of Carrier and
short-faced Tumbler; also lower jaws (largest size) of Runt, middle size of
Rock-pigeon, and the broad one of Barb. The form of ramus of jaw differs
curiously in these jaws.
Also MS. of hybridism and pigeons, which will just weary you to death. I
will call myself for or send a servant for the MS. and bones whenever you
have done with them; but do not hurry.
You have hit on the exact plan, which, on the advice of Lyell, Murray,
etc., I mean to follow--viz., bring out separate volumes in detail--and I
shall begin with domestic productions; but I am determined to try and
[work] very slowly, so that, if possible, I may keep in a somewhat better
state of health. I had not thought of illustrations; that is capital
advice. Farewell, my good and admirable agent for the promulgation of
LETTER 86. TO L. HORNER.
Down, December 23rd .
I must have the pleasure of thanking you for your extremely kind letter. I
am very much pleased that you approve of my book, and that you are going to
pay me the extraordinary compliment of reading it twice. I fear that it is
tough reading, but it is beyond my powers to make the subject clearer.
Lyell would have done it admirably.
You must enjoy being a gentlemen at your ease, and I hear that you have
returned with ardour to work at the Geological Society. We hope in the
course of the winter to persuade Mrs. Horner and yourself and daughters to
pay us a visit. Ilkley did me extraordinary good during the latter part of
my stay and during my first week at home; but I have gone back latterly to
my bad ways, and fear I shall never be decently well and strong.
P.S.--When any of your party write to Mildenhall I should be much obliged
if you would say to Bunbury that I hope he will not forget, whenever he
reads my book, his promise to let me know what he thinks about it; for his
knowledge is so great and accurate that every one must value his opinions
highly. I shall be quite contented if his belief in the immutability of
species is at all staggered.
LETTER 87. TO C. LYELL.
(87/1. In the "Origin of Species" a section of Chapter X. is devoted to
"The succession of the same types within the same areas, during the late
Tertiary period" (Edition I., page 339). Mr. Darwin wrote as follows:
"Mr. Clift many years ago showed that the fossil mammals from the
Australian caves were closely allied to the living marsupials of that
continent." After citing other instances illustrating the same agreement
between fossil and recent types, Mr. Darwin continues: "I was so much
impressed with these facts that I strongly insisted, in 1839 and 1845, on
this 'law of the succession of types,' on 'this wonderful relationship in
the same continent between the dead and the living.' Professor Owen has
subsequently extended the same generalisation to the mammals of the Old
Down, [December] 27th .
Owen wrote to me to ask for the reference to Clift. As my own notes for
the late chapters are all in chaos, I bethought me who was the most
trustworthy man of all others to look for references, and I answered
myself, "Of course Lyell." In the ["Principles of Geology"], edition of
1833, Volume III., chapter xi., page 144, you will find the reference to
Clift in the "Edinburgh New Phil Journal," No. XX., page 394. (87/2. The
correct reference to Clift's "Report" on fossil bones from New Holland is
"Edinburgh New Phil. Journal," 1831, page 394.) You will also find that
you were greatly struck with the fact itself (87/3. This refers to the
discovery of recent and fossil species of animals in an Australian cave-
breccia. Mr. Clift is quoted as having identified one of the bones, which
was much larger than the rest, as that of a hippopotamus.), which I had
quite forgotten. I copied the passage, and sent it to Owen. Why I gave in
some detail references to my own work is that Owen (not the first occasion
with respect to myself and others) quietly ignores my having ever
generalised on the subject, and makes a great fuss on more than one
occasion at having discovered the law of succession. In fact, this law,
with the Galapagos distribution, first turned my mind on the origin of
species. My own references are [to the "Naturalist's Voyage"]:
Large 8vo, Murray,
Edition 1839 Edition 1845
Page 210 Page 173 On succession.
Page 153 Pages 131-32 On splitting up of old
Long before Owen published I had in MS. worked out the succession of types
in the Old World (as I remember telling Sedgwick, who of course disbelieved
Since receiving your last letter on Hooker, I have read his introduction as
far as page xxiv (87/4. "On the Flora of Australia, etc.; being an
Introductory Essay to the Flora of Tasmania": London, 1859.), where the
Australian flora begins, and this latter part I liked most in the proofs.
It is a magnificent essay. I doubt slightly about some assertions, or
rather should have liked more facts--as, for instance, in regard to species
varying most on the confines of their range. Naturally I doubt a little
his remarks about divergence (87/5. "Variation is effected by graduated
changes; and the tendency of varieties, both in nature and under
cultivation, when further varying, is rather to depart more and more widely
from the original type than to revert to it." On the margin Darwin wrote:
"Without selection doubtful" (loc. cit., page viii).), and about domestic
races being produced under nature without selection. It would take much to
persuade me that a Pouter Pigeon, or a Carrier, etc., could have been
produced by the mere laws of variation without long continued selection,
though each little enlargement of crop and beak are due to variation. I
demur greatly to his comparison of the products of sinking and rising
islands (87/6. "I venture to anticipate that a study of the vegetation of
the islands with reference to the peculiarities of the generic types on the
one hand, and of the geological conditions (whether as rising or sinking)
on the other, may, in the present state of our knowledge, advance other
subjects of distribution and variation considerably" (loc. cit., page
xv).); in the Indian Ocean he compares exclusively many rising volcanic and
sinking coral islands. The latter have a most peculiar soil, and are
excessively small in area, and are tenanted by very few species; moreover,
such low coral islands have probably been often, during their subsidence,
utterly submerged, and restocked by plants from other islands. In the
Pacific Ocean the floras of all the best cases are unknown. The comparison
ought to have been exclusively between rising and fringed volcanic islands,
and sinking and encircled volcanic islands. I have read Naudin (87/7.
Naudin, "Revue Horticole," 1852?.), and Hooker agrees that he does not even
touch on my views.
LETTER 88. J.D. HOOKER TO CHARLES DARWIN.
[1859 or 1860.]
I have had another talk with Bentham, who is greatly agitated by your book:
evidently the stern, keen intellect is aroused, and he finds that it is too
late to halt between two opinions. How it will go we shall see. I am
intensely interested in what we shall come to, and never broach the subject
to him. I finished the geological evidence chapters yesterday; they are
very fine and very striking, but I cannot see they are such forcible
objections as you still hold them to be. I would say that you still in
your secret soul underrate the imperfection of the Geological Record,
though no language can be stronger or arguments fairer and sounder against
it. Of course I am influenced by Botany, and the conviction that we have
not in a fossilised condition a fraction of the plants that have existed,
and that not a fraction of those we have are recognisable specifically. I
never saw so clearly put the fact that it is not intermediates between
existing species we want, but between these and the unknown tertium quid.
You certainly make a hobby of Natural Selection, and probably ride it too
hard; that is a necessity of your case. If the improvement of the
creation-by-variation doctrine is conceivable, it will be by unburthening
your theory of Natural Selection, which at first sight seems overstrained--
i.e., to account for too much. I think, too, that some of your
difficulties which you override by Natural Selection may give way before
other explanations. But, oh Lord! how little we do know and have known to
be so advanced in knowledge by one theory. If we thought ourselves knowing
dogs before you revealed Natural Selection, what d--d ignorant ones we must
surely be now we do know that law.
I hear you may be at the Club on Thursday. I hope so. Huxley will not be
there, so do not come on that ground.
LETTER 89. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
January 1st .
I write one line merely to thank you for your pleasant note, and to say
that I will keep your secret. I will shake my head as mysteriously as Lord
Burleigh. Several persons have asked me who wrote that "most remarkable
article" in the "Times." (89/1. The "Times," December 26th, 1859, page 8.
The opening paragraphs were by one of the staff of the "Times." See "Life
and Letters," II., page 255, for Mr. Huxley's interesting account of his
share in the matter.) As a cat may look at a king, so I have said that I
strongly suspected you. X was so sharp that the first sentence revealed
the authorship. The Z's (God save the mark) thought it was Owen's! You
may rely on it that it has made a deep impression, and I am heartily glad
that the subject and I owe you this further obligation. But for God's
sake, take care of your health; remember that the brain takes years to
rest, whilst the muscles take only hours. There is poor Dana, to whom I
used to preach by letter, writes to me that my prophecies are come true:
he is in Florence quite done up, can read nothing and write nothing, and
cannot talk for half an hour. I noticed the "naughty sentence" (89/2. Mr.
Huxley, after speaking of the rudimental teeth of the whale, of rudimental
jaws in insects which never bite, and rudimental eyes in blind animals,
goes on: "And we would remind those who, ignorant of the facts, must be
moved by authority, that no one has asserted the incompetence of the
doctrine of final causes, in its application to physiology and anatomy,
more strongly than our own eminent anatomist, Professor Owen, who, speaking
of such cases, says ("On the Nature of Limbs," pages 39, 40), 'I think it
will be obvious that the principle of final adaptations fails to satisfy
all the conditions of the problem.'"--"The Times," December 26th, 1859.)
about Owen, though my wife saw its bearing first. Farewell you best and
worst of men!
That sentence about the bird and the fish dinners charmed us. Lyell wrote
to me--style like yours.
Have you seen the slashing article of December 26th in the "Daily News,"
against my stealing from my "master," the author of the "Vestiges?"
LETTER 90. TO J.L.A. DE QUATREFAGES.
How I should like to know whether Milne Edwards has read the copy which I
sent him, and whether he thinks I have made a pretty good case on our side
of the question. There is no naturalist in the world for whose opinion I
have so profound a respect. Of course I am not so silly as to expect to
change his opinion.
LETTER 91. TO C. LYELL.
(91/1. The date of this letter is doubtful; but as it evidently refers to
the 2nd edition of the "Origin," which appeared on January 7th, 1860, we
believe that December 9th, 1859, is right. The letter of Sedgwick's is
doubtless that given in the "Life and Letters," II., page 247; it is there
dated December 24th, 1859, but from other evidence it was probably written
on November 24th)
[December?] 9th .
I send Sedgwick's letter; it is terribly muddled, and really the first page
seems almost childish.
I am sadly over-worked, so will not write to you. I have worked in a
number of your invaluable corrections--indeed, all as far as time permits.
I infer from a letter from Huxley that Ramsay (91/2. See a letter to
Huxley, November 27th, 1859, "Life and Letters," II., page 282.) is a
convert, and I am extremely glad to get pure geologists, as they will be
very few. Many thanks for your very pleasant note. What pleasure you have
given me. I believe I should have been miserable had it not been for you
and a few others, for I hear threatening of attacks which I daresay will be
severe enough. But I am sure that I can now bear them.
LETTER 92. TO T.H. HUXLEY.
(92/1. The point here discussed is one to which Mr. Huxley attached great,
in our opinion too great, importance.)
Down, January 11th [1860?].
I fully agree that the difficulty is great, and might be made much of by a
mere advocate. Will you oblige me by reading again slowly from pages 267
to 272. (92/2. The reference is to the "Origin," Edition I.: the section
on "The Fertility of Varieties when crossed, and of their Mongrel
Offspring" occupies pages 267-72.) I may add to what is there said, that