(155/1. The original letter is dated "December 10th," but this must, we think, be a slip of the pen for January 10th. It contains a reference to No. VI. of the "Lectures to Working Men" which, as Mr. Leonard Huxley is good enough to inform us, was not delivered until December 15th, and therefore could not have been seen by Mr. Darwin on December 10th. The change of date makes comprehensible the reference to Falconer's paper "On the American Fossil Elephant of the Regions bordering the Gulf of Mexico (E. Columbi, Falc.)," which appeared in the January number of the "Natural History Review." It is true that he had seen advanced sheets of Falconer's paper ("Life and Letters," II., page 389), but the reference here is to the complete paper.
In the present volume we have thought it right to give some expression to the attitude of Darwin towards Owen. Professor Owen's biographer has clearly felt the difficulty of making a statement on Owen's attitude towards Darwinism, and has ("Life of Sir Richard Owen," Volume II., page 92) been driven to adopt the severe indictment contained in the "Origin of Species," Edition VI., page xviii. Darwin was by no means alone in his distrust of Owen; and to omit altogether a reference to the conduct which led up to the isolation of Owen among his former friends and colleagues would be to omit a part of the history of science of the day. And since we cannot omit to notice Darwin's point of view, it seems right to give the facts of a typical case illustrating the feeling with which he regarded Owen. This is all the more necessary since the recently published biography of Sir R. Owen gives no hint, as far as we are aware, of even a difference of opinion with other scientific men.
The account which Falconer gives in the above-mentioned paper in the "Nat. Hist. Review" (January, 1863) would be amusing if the matter were less serious. In 1857 Falconer described ("Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc." XIII.) a new species of fossil elephant from America, to which he gave the name Elephas Columbi, a designation which was recognised and adopted by Continental writers. In 1858 (Brit. Assoc. Leeds) Owen made use of the name "Elephas texianus," Blake" for the species which Falconer had previously named E. Columbi, but without referring to Falconer's determination; he gave no authority, "thus by the established usage in zoology producing it as his own." In 1861 Owen in his Palaeontology, 2nd edition, 1861, describes the elephant as E. texianus, Blake. To Mr. Blake's name is appended an asterisk which refers to a footnote to Bollaert's "Antiquities of S. America," 2nd edition. According to Falconer (page 46) no second edition of Bollaert had appeared at the time of writing (August, 1862), and in the first edition (1860) he was "unable to detect the occurrence of the name even, of E. texianus, anywhere throughout the volume"; though Bollaert mentions the fact that he had deposited, in the British Museum, the tooth of a fossil elephant from Texas.
In November, 1861, Blake wrote a paper in the "Geologist" in which the new elephant no longer bears his own name as authority, but is described as "Elephas texianus, Owen, E. Columbi, Falconer." Finally, in another paper the name of Owen is dropped and the elephant is once more his own. As Falconer remarks, "the usage of science does not countenance such accommodating arrangements, when the result is to prejudice a prior right."
It may be said, no doubt, that the question who first described a given species is a petty one; but this view has a double edge, and applies most strongly to those who neglect the just claims of their predecessors.
Down, January 5th .
I finished your Elephant paper last night, and you must let me express my admiration at it. (155/2. "On the American Fossil Elephant of the Regions bordering the Gulf of Mexico (E. Columbi, Falc.), etc." "Nat. Hist. Rev." 1863, page 81. (Cf. Letter to Lyell. "Life and Letters," II., page 389; also "Origin," Edition VI., page 306.) See Letter 143.) All the points strike me as admirably worked out, and very many most interesting. I was particularly struck with your remarks on the character of the ancient
Mammalian Fauna of N. America (155/3. Falconer, page 62. This passage is marked in Darwin's copy.); it agrees with all I fancied was the case, namely a temporary irruption of S. American forms into N. America, and conversely, I chuckled a little over the specimen of M. Andium "hesitating" between the two groups. (155/4. In speaking of the characters of Mastodon Andium, Falconer refers to a former paper by himself ("Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc." Volume XIII. 1857, page 313), in which he called attention "to the exceptional character of certain specimens of M. Andium, as if hesitating between [the groups] Tetralophodon and Trilophodon" (ibid., page 100).) I have been assured by Mr. Wallace that abundant Mastodon remains have been found at Timor, and that is rather close to Australia. I rejoice that you have smashed that case. (155/5. In the paper in the "Nat. Hist. Review" (loc. cit.) Falconer writes: "It seems more probable that some unintentional error has got mixed up with the history of this remarkable fossil; and until further confirmatory evidence is adduced, of an unimpeachable character, faith cannot be reposed in the reality of the asserted Australian Mastodon" (page 101).) It is indeed a grand paper. I will say nothing more about your allusions to me, except that they have pleased me quite as much in print as in MS. You must have worked very hard; the labour must have been extreme, but I do hope that you will have health and strength to go on. You would laugh if you could see how indignant all Owen's mean conduct about E. Columbi made me. (155/6. See Letter 157.) I did not get to sleep till past 3 o'clock. How well you lash him, firmly and severely, with unruffled temper, as if you were performing a simple duty. The case is come to such a pass, that I think every man of science is bound to show his feelings by some overt act, and I shall watch for a fitting opportunity.
P.S.--I have kept back for a day the enclosed owing to the arrival of your most interesting letter. I knew it was a mere chance whether you could inform me on the points required; but no one other person has so often responded to my miscellaneous queries. I believe I have now in my greenhouse L. trigynum (155/7. Linum trigynum.), which came up from seed purchased as L. flavum, from which it is wholly different in foliage. I have just sent in a paper on Dimorphism of Linum to the Linnean Society (155/8. "On the Existence of the Forms, and on their reciprocal Sexual Relation, in several species of the genus Linum.--"Journ. Linn. Soc." Volume VII., page 69, 1864.), and so I do not doubt your memory is right about L. trigynum: the functional difference in the two forms of Linum is really wonderful. I assure you I quite long to see you and a few others in London; it is not so much the eczema which has taken the epidermis a dozen times clean off; but I have been knocked up of late with extraordinary facility, and when I shall be able to come up I know not. I particularly wish to hear about the wondrous bird: the case has delighted me, because no group is so isolated as Birds. I much wish to hear when we meet which digits are developed; when examining birds two or three years ago, I
distinctly remember writing to Lyell that some day a fossil bird would be found with the end of wing cloven, i.e. the bastard-wing and other part, both well developed. Thanks for Von Martius, returned by this post, which I was glad to see. Poor old Wagner (Probably Johann Andreas Wagner, author of "Zur Feststellung des Artbegriffes, mit besonderer Bezugnahme auf die Ansichten von Nathusius, Darwin, Is. Geoffroy and Agassiz," "Munchen Sitzungsb." (1861), page 301, and of numerous papers on zoological and palaeozoological subjects.) always attacked me in a proper spirit, and sent me two or three little brochures, and I thanked him cordially. The Germans seem much stirred up on the subject. I received by the same post almost a little volume on the "Origin."
I cannot work above a couple of hours daily, and this plays the deuce with me.
P.S. 2nd.--I have worked like a slave and been baffled like a slave in trying to make out the meaning of two very different sets of stamens in some Melastomaceae. (155/9. Several letters on the Melastomaceae occur in our Botanical section.) I must tell you one fact. I counted 9,000 seeds, one by one, from my artificially fertilised pods. There is something very odd, but I am as yet beaten. Plants from two pollens grow at different rates! Now, what I want to know is, whether in individuals of the same species, growing together, you have ever noticed any difference in the position of the pistil or in the size and colour of the stamens?
LETTER 156. TO T.H. HUXLEY. Down, December 18th .
I have read Nos. IV, and V. (156/1. "On our Knowledge of the Causes of the Phenomena of Organic Nature," being six Lectures to Working Men delivered at the Museum of Practical Geology by Prof. Huxley, 1863. These lectures, which were given once a week from November 10th, 1862, onwards, were printed from the notes of Mr. J.A. Mays, a shorthand writer, who asked permission to publish them on his own account; Mr. Huxley stating in a prefatory "Notice" that he had no leisure to revise the lectures.) They are simply perfect. They ought to be largely advertised; but it is very good in me to say so, for I threw down No. IV. with this reflection, "What is the good of writing a thundering big book, when everything is in this green little book, so despicable for its size?" In the name of all that is good and bad, I may as well shut up shop altogether. You put capitally and most simply and clearly the relation of animals and plants to each other at page 122.
Be careful about Fantails: their tail-feathers are fixed in a radiating position, but they can depress and elevate them. I remember in a pigeon-
book seeing withering contempt expressed at some naturalist for not knowing this important point! Page 111 (156/2. The reference is to the original little green paper books in which the lectures first appeared; the paging in the bound volume dated 1863 is slightly different. The passage here is, "...If you couple a male and female hybrid...the result is that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred you will get no offspring at all." Darwin maintains elsewhere that Huxley, from not knowing the botanical evidence, made too much of this point. See "Life and Letters," II., page 384.) seems a little too strong--viz., ninety-nine out of a hundred, unless you except plants.
Page 118: You say the answer to varieties when crossed being at all sterile is "absolutely a negative." (156/3. Huxley, page 112: "Can we find any approximation to this [sterility of hybrids] in the different races known to be produced by selective breeding from a common stock? Up to the present time the answer to that question is absolutely a negative one.") Do you mean to say that Gartner lied, after experiments by the hundred (and he a hostile witness), when he showed that this was the case with Verbascum and with maize (and here you have selected races): does Kolreuter lie when he speaks about the varieties of tobacco? My God, is not the case difficult enough, without its being, as I must think, falsely made more difficult? I believe it is my own fault--my d-- d candour: I ought to have made ten times more fuss about these most careful experiments. I did put it stronger in the third edition of the "Origin." If you have a new edition, do consider your second geological section: I do not dispute the truth of your statement; but I maintain that in almost every case the gravel would graduate into the mud; that there would not be a hard, straight line between the mass of gravel and mud; that the gravel, in crawling inland, would be separated from the underlying beds by oblique lines of stratification. A nice idea of the difficulty of Geology your section would give to a working man! Do show your section to Ramsay, and tell him what I say; and if he thinks it a fair section for a beginner I am shut up, and "will for ever hold my tongue." Good-night.
LETTER 157. TO T.H. HUXLEY. Down, [January] 10th .
You will be weary of notes from me about the little book of yours. It is lucky for me that I expressed, before reading No. VI. (157/1. "Lectures to Working Men," No. VI., is a critical examination of the position of the "Origin of Species" in relation to the complete theory of the "causes of the phenomena of organic nature."), my opinion of its absolute excellence, and of its being well worth wide distribution and worth correction (not that I see where you could improve), if you thought it worth your valuable time. Had I read No. VI., even a rudiment of modesty would, or ought to, have stopped me saying so much. Though I have been well abused, yet I have had so much praise, that I have become a gourmand, both as to capacity and taste; and I really did not think that mortal man could have tickled my palate in the exquisite manner with which you have done the job. So I am an old ass, and nothing more need be said about this. I agree entirely with all your reservations about accepting the doctrine, and you might have gone further with further safety and truth. Of course I do not wholly agree about sterility. I hate beyond all things finding myself in disagreement with any capable judge, when the premises are the same; and yet this will occasionally happen. Thinking over my former letter to you, I fancied (but I now doubt) that I had partly found out the cause of our disagreement, and I attributed it to your naturally thinking most about animals, with which the sterility of the hybrids is much more conspicuous than the lessened fertility of the first cross. Indeed, this could hardly be ascertained with mammals, except by comparing the products of [their] whole life; and, as far as I know, this has only been ascertained in the case of the horse and ass, which do produce fewer offspring in [their] lifetime than in pure breeding. In plants the test of first cross seems as fair as test of sterility of hybrids. And this latter test applies, I will maintain to the death, to the crossing of varieties of Verbascum, and varieties, selected varieties, of Zea. (157/2. See Letter 156.) You will say Go to the Devil and hold your tongue. No, I will not hold my tongue; for I must add that after going, for my present book, all through domestic animals, I have come to the conclusion that there are almost certainly several cases of two or three or more species blended together and now perfectly fertile together. Hence I conclude that there must be something in domestication,--perhaps the less stable conditions, the very cause which induces so much variability,--which eliminates the natural sterility of species when crossed. If so, we can see how unlikely that sterility should arise between domestic races. Now I will hold my tongue. Page 143: ought not "Sanscrit" to be "Aryan"? What a capital number the last "Natural History Review" is! That is a grand paper by Falconer. I cannot say how indignant Owen's conduct about E. Columbi has made me. I believe I hate him more than you do, even perhaps more than good old Falconer does. But I have bubbled over to one or two correspondents on this head, and will say no more. I have sent Lubbock a little review of Bates' paper in "Linn. Transact." (157/3. The unsigned review of Mr. Bates' work on mimetic butterflies appeared in the "Nat. Hist. Review" (1863), page 219.) which L. seems to think will do for your "Review." Do inaugurate a great improvement, and have pages cut, like the Yankees do; I will heap blessings on your head. Do not waste your time in answering this.
LETTER 158. TO JOHN LUBBOCK [LORD AVEBURY]. Down, January 23rd .
I have no criticism, except one sentence not perfectly smooth. I think your introductory remarks very striking, interesting, and novel. (158/1. "On the Development of Chloeon (Ephemera) dimidiatum, Part I. By John Lubbock. "Trans. Linn. Soc." Volume XXIV., pages 61-78, 1864 [Read January 15th, 1863].) They interested me the more, because the vaguest thoughts of the same kind had passed through my head; but I had no idea that they could be so well developed, nor did I know of exceptions. Sitaris and Meloe (158/2. Sitaris and Meloe, two genera of coleopterous insects, are referred to by Lubbock (op. cit., pages 63-64) as "perhaps...the most remarkable cases...among the Coleoptera" of curious and complicated metamorphoses.) seem very good. You have put the whole case of metamorphosis in a new light; I dare say what you remark about poverty of fresh-water is very true. (158/3. "We cannot but be struck by the poverty of the fresh-water fauna when compared with that of the ocean" (op. cit., page 64).) I think you might write a memoir on fresh-water productions. I suggest that the key-note is that land-productions are higher and have advantage in general over marine; and consequently land-productions have generally been modified into fresh-water productions, instead of marine productions being directly changed into fresh-water productions, as at first seems more probable, as the chance of immigration is always open from sea to rivers and ponds.
My talk with you did me a deal of good, and I enjoyed it much.
LETTER 159. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, January 13 th .
I send a very imperfect answer to [your] question, which I have written on foreign paper to save you copying, and you can send when you write to Thomson in Calcutta. Hereafter I shall be able to answer better your question about qualities induced in individuals being inherited; gout in man--loss of wool in sheep (which begins in the first generation and takes two or three to complete); probably obesity (for it is rare with poor); probably obesity and early maturity in short-horn cattle, etc., etc.
LETTER 160. TO A. DE CANDOLLE. Down, January 14th .
I thank you most sincerely for sending me your Memoir. (160/1. Etude sur l'Espece a l'occasion d'une revision de la Famille des Cupuliferes. "Biblioth. Univ. (Arch. des Sc. Phys. et Nat.)," Novembre 1862.) I have read it with the liveliest interest, as is natural for me; but you have the art of making subjects, which might be dry, run easily. I have been fairly astonished at the amount of individual variability in the oaks. I never saw before the subject in any department of nature worked out so carefully. What labour it must have cost you! You spoke in one letter of advancing years; but I am very sure that no one would have suspected that you felt this. I have been interested with every part; though I am so unfortunate as to differ from most of my contemporaries in thinking that the vast continental extensions (160/2. See Letters 47, 48.) of Forbes, Heer, and others are not only advanced without sufficient evidence, but are opposed to much weighty evidence. You refer to my work in the kindest and most generous spirit. I am fully satisfied at the length in belief to which you go, and not at all surprised at the prudent reservations which you make. I remember well how many years it cost me to go round from old beliefs. It is encouraging to me to observe that everyone who has gone an inch with me, after a period goes a few more inches or even feet. But the great point, as it seems to me, is to give up the immutability of specific forms; as long as they are thought immutable, there can be no real progress in "Epiontology." (160/3. See De Candolle, loc. cit., page 67: he defines "Epiontologie" as the study of the distribution and succession of organised beings from their origin up to the present time. At present Epiontology is divided into geography and palaeontology, "mais cette division trop inegale et a limites bien vagues disparaitra probablement.") It matters very little to any one except myself, whether I am a little more or less wrong on this or that point; in fact, I am sure to be proved wrong in many points. But the subject will have, I am convinced, a grand future. Considering that birds are the most isolated group in the animal kingdom, what a splendid case is this Solenhofen bird-creature with its long tail and fingers to its wings! I have lately been daily and hourly using and quoting your "Geographical Botany" in my book on "Variation under Domestication."
LETTER 161. TO HORACE DOBELL. Down, February 16th .
Absence from home and consequent idleness are the causes that I have not sooner thanked you for your very kind present of your Lectures. (161/1. "On the Germs and Vestiges of Disease," (London) 1861.) Your reasoning seems quite satisfactory (though the subject is rather beyond my limit of thought and knowledge) on the V.M.F. not being "a given quantity." (161/2. "It has been too common to consider the force exhibited in the operations of life (the V.M.F.) as a given quantity, to which no accessions can be made, but which is apportioned to each living being in quantity sufficient for its necessities, according to some hidden law" (op. cit., page 41.) And I can see that the conditions of life must play a most important part in allowing this quantity to increase, as in the budding of a tree, etc. How far these conditions act on "the forms of organic life" (page 46) I do not see clearly. In fact, no part of my subject has so completely puzzled me as to determine what effect to attribute to (what I vaguely call) the direct action of the conditions of life. I shall before long come to this subject, and must endeavour to come to some conclusion when I have got the mass of collected facts in some sort of order in my mind. My present impression is that I have underrated this action in the "Origin." I have no doubt when I go through your volume I shall find other points of interest and value to me. I have already stumbled on one case (about which I want to consult Mr. Paget)--namely, on the re-growth of supernumerary digits. (161/3. See Letters 178, 270.) You refer to "White on Regeneration, etc., 1785." I have been to the libraries of the Royal and the Linnean Societies, and to the British Museum, where the librarians got out your volume and made a special hunt, and could discover no trace of such a book. Will you grant me the favour of giving me any clue, where I could see the book? Have you it? if so, and the case is given briefly, would you have the great kindness to copy it? I much want to know all particulars. One case has been given me, but with hardly minute enough details, of a supernumerary little finger which has already been twice cut off, and now the operation will soon have to be done for the third time. I am extremely much obliged for the genealogical table; the fact of the two cousins not, as far as yet appears, transmitting the peculiarity is extraordinary, and must be given by me.
LETTER 162. TO C. LYELL. [February 17th, 1863.]
The same post that brought the enclosed brought Dana's pamphlet on the same subject. (162/1. The pamphlet referred to was published in "Silliman's Journal," Volume XXV., 1863, pages 65 and 71, also in the "Annals and Magazine of Natural History," Volume XI., pages 207-14, 1863: "On the Higher Subdivisions in the Classification of Mammals." In this paper Dana maintains the view that "Man's title to a position by himself, separate from the other mammals in classification, appears to be fixed on structural as well as physical grounds" (page 210). His description is as follows:--
I. ARCHONTIA (vel DIPODA) Man (alone).
II. MEGASTHENA. III. MICROSTHENA. Quadrumana. Cheiroptera.
Mutilata. Bruta (Edentata).
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