(121/1. Mr. Darwin's letters to Mr. Tegetmeier, taken as a whole, give a striking picture of the amount of assistance which Darwin received from him during many years. Some citations from these letters given in "Life and Letters," II., pages 52, 53, show how freely and generously Mr. Tegetmeier gave his help, and how much his co-operation was valued.
The following letter is given as an example of the questions on which Darwin sought Mr. Tegetmeier's opinion and guidance.)
I ought to have answered your last note sooner; but I have been very busy. How wonderfully successful you have been in breeding Pouters! You have a good right to be proud of your accuracy of eye and judgment. I am in the thick of poultry, having just commenced, and shall be truly grateful for the skulls, if you can send them by any conveyance to the Nag's Head next
You ask about vermilion wax: positively it was not in the state of comb, but in solid bits and cakes, which were thrown with other rubbish not far from my hives. You can make any use of the fact you like. Combs could be concentrically and variously coloured and dates recorded by giving for a few days wax darkly coloured with vermilion and indigo, and I daresay other substances. You ask about my crossed fowls, and this leads me to make a proposition to you, which I hope cannot be offensive to you. I trust you know me too well to think that I would propose anything objectionable to the best of my judgment. The case is this: for my object of treating poultry I must give a sketch of several breeds, with remarks on various points. I do not feel strong on the subject. Now, when my MS. is fairly copied in an excellent handwriting, would you read it over, which would take you at most an hour or two, and make comments in pencil on it; and accept, like a barrister, a fee, we will say, of a couple of guineas. This would be a great assistance to me, specially if you would allow me to put a note, stating that you, a distinguished judge and fancier, had read it over. I would state that you doubted or concurred, as each case might be, of course striking out what you were sure was incorrect. There would be little new in my MS. to you; but if by chance you used any of my facts or conclusions before I published, I should wish you to state that they were on my authority; otherwise I shall be accused of stealing from you. There will be little new, except that perhaps I have consulted some out-of-the-way books, and have corresponded with some good authorities. Tell me frankly what you think of this; but unless you will oblige me by accepting remuneration, I cannot and will not give you such trouble. I have little doubt that several points will arise which will require investigation, as I care for many points disregarded by fanciers; and according to any time thus spent, you will, I trust, allow me to make remuneration. I hope that you will grant me this favour. There is one assistance which I will now venture to beg of you--viz., to get me, if you can, another specimen of an old white Angora rabbit. I want it dead for the skeleton; and not knocked on the head. Secondly, I see in the "Cottage Gardener" (March 19th, page 375) there are impure half-lops with one ear quite upright and shorter than the other lopped ear. I much want a dead one. Baker cannot get one. Baily is looking out; but I want two specimens. Can you assist me, if you meet any rabbit-fancier? I have had rabbits with one ear more lopped than the other; but I want one with one ear quite upright and shorter, and the other quite long and lopped.
LETTER 122. TO H.W. BATES. Down, March 26th .
I have read your papers with extreme interest, and I have carefully read every word of them. (122/1. "Contributions to an Insect Fauna of the Amazon Valley." (Read March 5th and November 24th, 1860). "Entomological Soc. Trans." V., pages 223 and 335).) They seem to me to be far richer in facts of variation, and especially on the distribution of varieties and subspecies, than anything which I have read. Hereafter I shall re-read them, and hope in my future work to profit by them and make use of them. The amount of variation has much surprised me. The analogous variation of distinct species in the same regions strikes me as particularly curious. The greater variability of the female sex is new to me. Your Guiana case seems in some degree analogous, as far as plants are concerned, with the modern plains of La Plata, which seem to have been colonised from the north, but the species have been hardly modified. (122/2. Mr. Bates (page 349) gives reason to believe that the Guiana region should be considered "a perfectly independent province," and that it has formed a centre "whence radiated the species which now people the low lands on its borders.")
Would you kindly answer me two or three questions if in your power? When species A becomes modified in another region into a well-marked form C, but is connected with it by one (or more) gradational forms B inhabiting an intermediate region; does this form B generally exist in equal numbers with A and C, OR INHABIT AN EQUALLY LARGE AREA? The probability is that you cannot answer this question, though one of your cases seems to bear on it...
You will, I think, be glad to hear that I now often hear of naturalists accepting my views more or less fully; but some are curiously cautious in running the risk of any small odium in expressing their belief.
I have been unwell, so have delayed thanking you for your admirable letter. I hope you will not think me presumptuous in saying how much I have been struck with your varied knowledge, and with the decisive manner in which you bring it to bear on each point,--a rare and most high quality, as far as my experience goes. I earnestly hope you will find time to publish largely: before the Linnean Society you might bring boldly out your views on species. Have you ever thought of publishing your travels, and working in them the less abstruse parts of your Natural History? I believe it would sell, and be a very valuable contribution to Natural History. You must also have seen a good deal of the natives. I know well it would be quite unreasonable to ask for any further information from you; but I will just mention that I am now, and shall be for a long time, writing on domestic varieties of all animals. Any facts would be useful, especially any showing that savages take any care in breeding their animals, or in rejecting the bad and preserving the good; or any fancies which they may have that one coloured or marked dog, etc., is better than another. I have already collected much on this head, but am greedy for facts. You will at once see their bearing on variation under domestication.
Hardly anything in your letter has pleased me more than about sexual selection. In my larger MS. (and indeed in the "Origin" with respect to the tuft of hairs on the breast of the cock-turkey) I have guarded myself against going too far; but I did not at all know that male and female butterflies haunted rather different sites. If I had to cut up myself in a review I would have [worried?] and quizzed sexual selection; therefore, though I am fully convinced that it is largely true, you may imagine how pleased I am at what you say on your belief. This part of your letter to me is a quintessence of richness. The fact about butterflies attracted by coloured sepals is another good fact, worth its weight in gold. It would have delighted the heart of old Christian C. Sprengel--now many years in his grave.
I am glad to hear that you have specially attended to "mimetic" analogies--a most curious subject; I hope you publish on it. I have for a long time wished to know whether what Dr. Collingwood asserts is true--that the most striking cases generally occur between insects inhabiting the same country.
LETTER 124. TO F.W. HUTTON. Down, April 20th .
I hope that you will permit me to thank you for sending me a copy of your paper in "The Geologist" (124/1. In a letter to Hooker (April 23 rd?, 1861) Darwin refers to Hutton's review as "very original," and adds that Hutton is "one of the very few who see that the change of species cannot be directly proved..." ("Life and Letters," II., page 362). The review appeared in "The Geologist" (afterwards known as "The Geological Magazine") for 1861, pages 132-6 and 183-8. A letter on "Difficulties of Darwinism" is published in the same volume of "The Geologist," page 286.), and at the same time to express my opinion that you have done the subject a real service by the highly original, striking, and condensed manner with which you have put the case. I am actually weary of telling people that I do not pretend to adduce direct evidence of one species changing into another, but that I believe that this view in the main is correct, because so many phenomena can be thus grouped together and explained. But it is generally of no use; I cannot make persons see this. I generally throw in their teeth the universally admitted theory of the undulation of light,--neither the undulation nor the very existence of ether being proved, yet admitted because the view explains so much. You are one of the very few who have seen this, and have now put it most forcibly and clearly. I am much pleased to see how carefully you have read my book, and, what is far more important, reflected on so many points with an independent spirit. As I am deeply interested in the subject (and I hope not exclusively under a personal point of view) I could not resist venturing to thank you for the right good service which you have done.
I need hardly say that this note requires no answer.
Was this article helpful?