Letter 103 To Jd Hooker

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(103/1. This letter is of interest as containing a strong expression upon the overwhelming importance of selection.)

Many thanks for Harvey's letter (103/2. W.H. Harvey had been corresponding with Sir J.D. Hooker on the 'Origin of Species."), which I will keep a little longer and then return. I will write to him and try to make clear from analogy of domestic productions the part which I believe selection has played. I have been reworking my pigeons and other domestic animals, and I am sure that any one is right in saying that selection is the efficient cause, though, as you truly say, variation is the base of all. Why I do not believe so much as you do in physical agencies is that I see in almost every organism (though far more clearly in animals than in plants) adaptation, and this except in rare instances, must, I should think, be due to selection.

Do not forget the Pyrola when in flower. (103/3. In a letter to Hooker, May 22nd, 1860, Darwin wrote: "Have you Pyrola at Kew? if so, for heaven's sake observe the curvature of the pistil towards the gangway to the nectary." The fact of the stigma in insect-visited flowers being so placed that the visitor must touch it on its way to the nectar, was a point which early attracted Darwin's attention and strongly impressed him.) My blessed little Scaevola has come into flower, and I will try artificial fertilisation on it.

I have looked over Harvey's letter, and have assumed (I hope rightly) that he could not object to knowing that you had forwarded it to me.

LETTER 104. TO ASA GRAY. Down, June 8th [1860].

I have to thank you for two notes, one through Hooker, and one with some letters to be posted, which was done. I anticipated your request by making a few remarks on Owen's review. (104/1. "The Edinburgh Review," April, 1860.) Hooker is so weary of reviews that I do not think you will get any hints from him. I have lately had many more "kicks than halfpence." A review in the last Dublin "Nat. Hist. Review" is the most unfair thing which has appeared,--one mass of misrepresentation. It is evidently by Haughton, the geologist, chemist and mathematician. It shows immeasurable conceit and contempt of all who are not mathematicians. He discusses bees' cells, and puts a series which I have never alluded to, and wholly ignores the intermediate comb of Melipona, which alone led me to my notions. The article is a curiosity of unfairness and arrogance; but, as he sneers at Malthus, I am content, for it is clear he cannot reason. He is a friend of Harvey, with whom I have had some correspondence. Your article has clearly, as he admits, influenced him. He admits to a certain extent Natural Selection, yet I am sure does not understand me. It is strange that very few do, and I am become quite convinced that I must be an extremely bad explainer. To recur for a moment to Owen: he grossly misrepresents and is very unfair to Huxley. You say that you think the article must be by a pupil of Owen; but no one fact tells so strongly against Owen, considering his former position at the College of Surgeons, as that he has never reared one pupil or follower. In the number just out of "Fraser's Magazine" (104/2. See "Life and Letters," II., page 314.) there is an article or review on Lamarck and me by W. Hopkins, the mathematician, who, like Haughton, despises the reasoning power of all naturalists. Personally he is extremely kind towards me; but he evidently in the following number means to blow me into atoms. He does not in the least appreciate the difference in my views and Lamarck's, as explaining adaptation, the principle of divergence, the increase of dominant groups, and the almost necessary extinction of the less dominant and smaller groups, etc.

One word more upon the Deification (105/1. "If we confound 'Variation' or 'Natural Selection' with such creational laws, we deify secondary causes or immeasurably exaggerate their influence" (Lyell, "The Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man, with Remarks on Theories on the Origin of Species by Variation," page 469, London, 1863). See Letter 131.) of Natural Selection: attributing so much weight to it does not exclude still more general laws, i.e. the ordering of the whole universe. I have said that

Natural Selection is to the structure of organised beings what the human architect is to a building. The very existence of the human architect shows the existence of more general laws; but no one, in giving credit for a building to the human architect, thinks it necessary to refer to the laws by which man has appeared.

No astronomer, in showing how the movements of planets are due to gravity, thinks it necessary to say that the law of gravity was designed that the planets should pursue the courses which they pursue. I cannot believe that there is a bit more interference by the Creator in the construction of each species than in the course of the planets. It is only owing to Paley and Co., I believe, that this more special interference is thought necessary with living bodies. But we shall never agree, so do not trouble yourself to answer.

I should think your remarks were very just about mathematicians not being better enabled to judge of probabilities than other men of common-sense.

I have just got more returns about the gestation of hounds. The period differs at least from sixty-one to seventy-four days, just as I expected.

I was thinking of sending the "Gardeners' Chronicle" to you, on account of a paper by me on the fertilisation of orchids by insects (105/2. "Fertilisation of British Orchids by Insect Agency." This article in the "Gardeners' Chronicle" of June 9th, 1860, page 528, begins with a request that observations should be made on the manner of fertilisation in the bee-and in the fly-orchis.), as it involves a curious point, and as you cared about my paper on kidney beans; but as you are so busy, I will not.

I send Blyth (106/1. See Letter 27.); it is a dreadful handwriting; the passage is on page 4. In a former note he told me he feared there was hardly a chance of getting money for the Chinese expedition, and spoke of your kindness.

Many thanks for your long and interesting letter. I wonder at, admire, and thank you for your patience in writing so much. I rather demur to Deinosaurus not having "free will," as surely we have. I demur also to your putting Huxley's "force and matter" in the same category with Natural Selection. The latter may, of course, be quite a false view; but surely it is not getting beyond our depth to first causes.

It is truly very remarkable that the gestation of hounds (106/2. In a letter written to Lyell on June 25th, 1860, the following paragraph occurs: "You need not believe one word of what I said about gestation of dogs. Since writing to you I have had more correspondence with the master of hounds, and I see his [record?] is worth nothing. It may, of course, be correct, but cannot be trusted. I find also different statements about the wolf: in fact, I am all abroad.") should vary so much, while that of man does not. It may be from multiple origin. The eggs from the Musk and the common duck take an intermediate period in hatching; but I should rather look at it as one of the ten thousand cases which we cannot explain-namely, when one part or function varies in one species and not in another.

Hooker has told me nothing about his explanation of few Arctic forms; I knew the fact before. I had speculated on what I presume, from what you say, is his explanation (106/3. "Outlines of the Distribution of Arctic Plants," J.D. Hooker, "Trans. Linn. Soc." Volume XXIII., page 251, 1862. [read June 21st, 1860.] In this paper Hooker draws attention to the exceptional character of the Greenland flora; but as regards the paucity of its species and in its much greater resemblance to the floras of Arctic Europe than to those of Arctic America, he considers it difficult to account for these facts, "unless we admit Mr. Darwin's hypotheses" (see "Origin," Edition VI., 1872, Chapter XII., page 330) of a southern migration due to the cold of the glacial period and the subsequent return of the northern types during the succeeding warmer period. Many of the Greenland species, being confined to the peninsula, "would, as it were, be driven into the sea--that is exterminated" (Hooker, op. cit., pages 2534).); but there must have been at all times an Arctic region. I found the speculation got too complex, as it seemed to me, to be worth following out.

I have been doing some more interesting work with orchids. Talk of adaptation in woodpeckers (106/4. "Can a more striking instance of adaptation be given than that of a woodpecker for climbing trees and seizing insects in the chinks of the bark?" (Origin of Species," Edition HAVE I., page 141).), some of the orchids beat it.

I showed the case to Elizabeth Wedgwood, and her remark was, "Now you have upset your own book, for you won't persuade me that this could be effected by Natural Selection."

Many thanks for your pleasant letter. I agree to every word you say about "Fraser" and the "Quarterly." (107/1. Bishop Wilberforce's review of the "Origin" in the "Quarterly Review," July, 1860, was republished in his "Collected Essays," 1874. See "Life and Letters, II., page 182, and II., page 324, where some quotations from the review are given. For Hopkins' review in "Fraser's Magazine," June, 1860, see "Life and Letters," II., 314.) I have had some really admirable letters from Hopkins. I do not suppose he has ever troubled his head about geographical distribution, classification, morphologies, etc., and it is only those who have that will feel any relief in having some sort of rational explanation of such facts. Is it not grand the way in which the Bishop asserts that all such facts are explained by ideas in God's mind? The "Quarterly" is uncommonly clever; and I chuckled much at the way my grandfather and self are quizzed. I could here and there see Owen's hand. By the way, how comes it that you were not attacked? Does Owen begin to find it more prudent to leave you alone? I would give five shillings to know what tremendous blunder the Bishop made; for I see that a page has been cancelled and a new page gummed in.

I am indeed most thoroughly contented with the progress of opinion. From all that I hear from several quarters, it seems that Oxford did the subject great good. (107/2. An account of the meeting of the British Association at Oxford in 1860 is given in the "Life and Letters," II., page 320, and a fuller account in the one-volume "Life of Charles Darwin," 1892, page 236. See also the "Life and Letters of T.H. Huxley," Volume I., page 179, and the amusing account of the meeting in Mr. Tuckwell's "Reminiscences of Oxford," London, 1900, page 50.) It is of enormous importance the showing the world that a few first-rate men are not afraid of expressing their opinion. I see daily more and more plainly that my unaided book would have done absolutely nothing. Asa Gray is fighting admirably in the United States. He is thorough master of the subject, which cannot be said by any means of such men as even Hopkins.

I have been thinking over what you allude to about a natural history review. (107/3. In the "Life and Letters of T.H. Huxley," Volume I., page 209, some account of the founding of the "Natural History Review" is given in a letter to Sir J.D. Hooker of July 17th, 1860. On August 2nd Mr. Huxley added: "Darwin wrote me a very kind expostulation about it, telling me I ought not to waste myself on other than original work. In reply, however, I assured him that I MUST waste myself willy-nilly, and that the 'Review' was only a save-all.") I suppose you mean really a REVIEW and not journal for original communications in Natural History. Of the latter there is now superabundance. With respect to a good review, there can be no doubt of its value and utility; nevertheless, if not too late, I hope you will consider deliberately before you decide. Remember what a deal of work you have on your shoulders, and though you can do much, yet there is a limit to even the hardest worker's power of working. I should deeply regret to see you sacrificing much time which could be given to original research. I fear, to one who can review as well as you do, there would be the same temptation to waste time, as there notoriously is for those who can speak well.

A review is only temporary; your work should be perennial. I know well that you may say that unless good men will review there will be no good reviews. And this is true. Would you not do more good by an occasional review in some well-established review, than by giving up much time to the editing, or largely aiding, if not editing, a review which from being confined to one subject would not have a very large circulation? But I must return to the chief idea which strikes me--viz., that it would lessen the amount of original and perennial work which you could do. Reflect how few men there are in England who can do original work in the several lines in which you are excellently fitted. Lyell, I remember, on analogous grounds many years ago resolved he would write no more reviews. I am an old slowcoach, and your scheme makes me tremble. God knows in one sense I am about the last man in England who ought to throw cold water on any review in which you would be concerned, as I have so immensely profited by your labours in this line.

With respect to reviewing myself, I never tried: any work of that kind stops me doing anything else, as I cannot possibly work at odds and ends of time. I have, moreover, an insane hatred of stopping my regular current of work. I have now materials for a little paper or two, but I know I shall never work them up. So I will not promise to help; though not to help, if I could, would make me feel very ungrateful to you. You have no idea during how short a time daily I am able to work. If I had any regular duties, like you and Hooker, I should do absolutely nothing in science.

I am heartily glad to hear that you are better; but how such labour as volunteer-soldiering (all honour to you) does not kill you, I cannot understand.

For God's sake remember that your field of labour is original research in the highest and most difficult branches of Natural History. Not that I wish to underrate the importance of clever and solid reviews.

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