Letter 142 H Falconer To Charles Darwin

(142/1. This refers to the MS. of Falconer's paper "On the American Fossil Elephant of the Regions bordering the Gulf of Mexico (E. Columbi, Falc.)," published in the "Natural History Review," January, 1863, page 43. The section dealing with the bearing of his facts on Darwin's views is at page 77. He insists strongly (page 78) on the "persistence and uniformity of the characters of the molar teeth in the earliest known mammoth, and his most modern successor." Nevertheless, he adds that the "inferences I draw from these facts are not opposed to one of the leading propositions of

Darwin's theory." These admissions were the more satisfactory since, as Falconer points out (page 77), "I have been included by him in the category of those who have vehemently maintained the persistence of specific characters.")

21, Park Crescent, Portland Place, N.W., September 24th [1862].

Do not be frightened at the enclosure. I wish to set myself right by you before I go to press. I am bringing out a heavy memoir on elephants--an omnium gatherum affair, with observations on the fossil and recent species. One section is devoted to the persistence in time of the specific characters of the mammoth. I trace him from before the Glacial period, through it and after it, unchangeable and unchanged as far as the organs of digestion (teeth) and locomotion are concerned. Now, the Glacial period was no joke: it would have made ducks and drakes of your dear pigeons and doves.

With all my shortcomings, I have such a sincere and affectionate regard for you and such admiration of your work, that I should be pained to find that I had expressed my honest convictions in a way that would be open to any objection by you. The reasoning may be very stupid, but I believe that the observation is sound. Will you, therefore, look over the few pages which I have sent, and tell me whether you find any flaw, or whether you think I should change the form of expression? You have been so unhandsomely and uncandidly dealt with by a friend of yours and mine that I should be sorry to find myself in the position of an opponent to you, and more particularly with the chance of making a fool of myself.

I met your brother yesterday, who tells me you are coming to town. I hope you will give me a hail. I long for a jaw with you, and have much to speak to you about.

You will have seen the eclaircissement about the Eocene monkeys of England. By a touch of the conjuring wand they have been metamorphosed--a la Darwin --into Hyracotherian pigs. (142/2. "On the Hyracotherian Character of the Lower Molars of the supposed Macacus from the Eocene Sand of Kyson, Suffolk." "Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist." Volume X., 1862, page 240. In this note Owen stated that the teeth which he had named Macacus ("Ann. Mag." 1840, page 191) most probably belonged to Hyracotherium cuniculus. See "A Catalogue of British Fossil Vertebrata," A.S. Woodward and C.D. Sherborn, 1890, under Hyracotherium, page 356; also Zittel's "Handbuch der Palaeontologie" Abth. I., Bd. IV., Leipzig, 1891-93, page 703.) Would you believe it? This even is a gross blunder. They are not pigs.

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