Letter 167 To Hw Bates

At Rev. C. Langton, Hartfield, Tunbridge Wells, April 30th [1863].

You will have received before this the note which I addressed to Leicester, after finishing Volume I., and you will have received copies of my little review (167/1. "Nat. Hist. Review," 1863, page 219. A review of Bates' paper on Mimetic Butterflies.) of your paper...I have now finished Volume II., and my opinion remains the same--that you have written a truly admirable work (167/2. "The Naturalist on the Amazons," 1863.), with capital original remarks, first-rate descriptions, and the whole in a style which could not be improved. My family are now reading the book, and admire it extremely; and, as my wife remarks, it has so strong an air of truthfulness. I had a letter from a person the other day, unknown to you, full of praise of the book. I do hope it may get extensively heard of and circulated; but to a certain extent this, I think, always depends on chance.

I suppose the clicking noise of surprise made by the Indian is that which the end of the tongue, applied to the palate of the mouth and suddenly withdrawn, makes?

I have not written since receiving your note of April 20th, in which you confided in me and told me your prospects. I heartily wish they were better, and especially more certain; but with your abilities and powers of writing it will be strange if you cannot add what little you require for your income. I am glad that you have got a retired and semi-rural situation. What a grand ending you give to your book, contrasting civilisation and wild life! I quite regret that I have finished it: every evening it was a real treat to me to have my half-hour in the grand Amazonian forest, and picture to myself your vivid descriptions. There are heaps of facts of value to me in a natural history point of view. It was a great misfortune that you were prevented giving the discussion on species. But you will, I hope, be able to give your views and facts somewhere else.

Your letter received this morning interested me more than even most of your letters, and that is saying a good deal. I must scribble a little on several points. About Lyell and species--you put the whole case, I do believe, when you say that he is "half-hearted and whole-headed." (168/1. Darwin's disappointment with the cautious point of view taken up by Lyell in the "Antiquity of Man" is illustrated in the "Life and Letters," III., pages 11, 13. See also Letter 164, page 239.) I wrote to A. Gray that, when I saw such men as Lyell and he refuse to judge, it put me in despair, and that I sometimes thought I should prefer that Lyell had judged against modification of species rather than profess inability to decide; and I left him to apply this to himself. I am heartily rejoiced to hear that you intend to try to bring L. and F. (168/2. Falconer claimed that Lyell had not "done justice to the part he took in resuscitating the cave question." See "Life and Letters," III., page 14.) together again; but had you not better wait till they are a little cooled? You will do Science a real good service. Falconer never forgave Lyell for taking the Purbeck bones from him and handing them over to Owen.

With respect to island floras, if I understand rightly, we differ almost solely how plants first got there. I suppose that at long intervals, from as far back as later Tertiary periods to the present time, plants occasionally arrived (in some cases, perhaps, aided by different currents from existing currents and by former islands), and that these old arrivals have survived little modified on the islands, but have become greatly modified or become extinct on the continent. If I understand, you believe that all islands were formerly united to continents, and then received all their plants and none since; and that on the islands they have undergone less extinction and modification than on the continent. The number of animal forms on islands, very closely allied to those on continents, with a few extremely distinct and anomalous, does not seem to me well to harmonise with your supposed view of all having formerly arrived or rather having been left together on the island.

I was very glad to receive your review (169/1. The review on De Candolle's work on the Oaks (A. Gray's "Scientific Papers," I., page 130).) of De Candolle a week ago. It seems to me excellent, and you speak out, I think, more plainly in favour of derivation of species than hitherto, though doubtfully about Natural Selection. Grant the first, I am easy about the second. Do you not consider such cases as all the orchids next thing to a demonstration against Heer's view of species arising suddenly by monstrosities?--it is impossible to imagine so many co-adaptations being formed all by a chance blow. Of course creationists would cut the enigma.

What are you doing now? I have never yet got hold of the "Edinburgh Review," in which I hear you are well abused. By the way, I heard lately from Asa Gray that Wyman was delighted at "Man's Place." (170/1. "Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature," by T.H. Huxley, 1863.) I wonder who it is who pitches weakly, but virulently into you, in the "Anthropological Review." How quiet Owen seems! I do at last begin to believe that he will ultimately fall in public estimation. What nonsense he wrote in the "Athenaeum" (170/2. "Athenaeum," March 28th, 1863. See "Life and Letters," III., page 17.) on Heterogeny! I saw in his Aye-Aye (170/3. See Owen in the "Trans. Zool. Soc." Volume V. The sentence referred to seems to be the following (page 95): "We know of no changes in progress in the Island of Madagascar, necessitating a special quest of wood-boring larvae by small quadrupeds of the Lemurine or Sciurine types of organisation.') paper (I think) that he sneers at the manner in which he supposes that we should account for the structure of its limbs; and asks how we know that certain insects had increased in the Madagascar forests. Would it not be a good rebuff to ask him how he knows there were trees at all on the leafless plains of La Plata for his Mylodons to tear down? But I must stop, for if I once begin about [him] there will be no end. I was disappointed in the part about species in Lyell. (170/4. Lyell's "Antiquity of Man." See "Life and Letters," III., page 11.) You and Hooker are the only two bold men. I have had a bad spring and summer, almost constantly very unwell; but I am crawling on in my book on "Variation under Domestication.")

LETTER 171. TO C. LYELL. Down, August 14th [1863].

Have you seen Bentham's remarks on species in his address to the Linnean Society? (171/1. Presidential address before the Linnean Society by G. Bentham ("Journ. Proc. Linn. Soc." Volume VII., page xi., 1864).) they have pleased me more than anything I have read for some time. I have no news, for I have not seen a soul for months, and have had a bad spring and summer, but have managed to do a good deal of work. Emma is threatening me to take me to Malvern, and perhaps I shall be compelled, but it is a horrid waste of time; you must have enjoyed North Wales, I should think, it is to me a most glorious country...

If you have not read Bates' book (171/2. Henry Walter Bates, "The Naturalist on the River Amazons," 2 volumes, London, 1863. In a letter to Bates, April 18th, 1863, Darwin writes, "It is the best work of natural history travels ever published in England" ("Life and Letters," II., page 381.), I think it would interest you. He is second only to Humboldt in describing a tropical forest. (171/3. Quoted in "Life and Letters," II., page 381.). Talking of reading, I have never got the "Edinburgh" (171/4. The "Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man," by Sir Charles Lyell, and works by other authors reviewed in the "Edinburgh Review." Volume CXVIII., July 1863. The writer sums up his criticism as follows: "Glancing at the work of Sir Charles Lyell as a whole, it leaves the impression on our minds that we have been reading an ingenious academical thesis, rather than a work of demonstration by an original writer...There is no argument in it, and only a few facts which have not been stated elsewhere by Sir C. Lyell himself or by others" (loc. cit., page 294).), in which, I suppose, you are cut up.

LETTER 172. TO H. FALCONER. December 26th [1863].

Thank you for telling me about the Pliocene mammal, which is very remarkable; but has not Owen stated that the Pliocene badger is identical with the recent? Such a case does indeed well show the stupendous duration of the same form. I have not heard of Suess' pamphlet (172/1. Probably Suess's paper "Ueber die Verschiedenheit und die Aufeinanderfolge der tertiaren Land-faunen in der Niederung von Wien." "Sitz.-Ber. Wien Akad." XLVTL, page 306, 1863.), and should much like to learn the title, if it can be procured; but I am on different subjects just at present. I should rather like to see it rendered highly probable that the process of formation of a new species was short compared to its duration—that is, if the process was allowed to be slow and long; the idea is new to me. Heer's view that new species are suddenly formed like monsters, I feel a conviction from many reasons is false.

CHAPTER 1.IV.--EVOLUTION, 1864-1869.

LETTER 173. TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, January 1st, 1864.

I am still unable to write otherwise than by dictation. In a letter received two or three weeks ago from Asa Gray he writes: "I read lately with gusto Wallace's expose of the Dublin man on Bees' cells, etc." (173/1. "Remarks on the Rev. S. Haughton's paper on the Bee's Cell and on the Origin of Species" ("Ann. and Mag. Nat. Hist." XII., 1863, page 303). Prof. Haughton's paper was read before the Natural History Society of Dublin, November 21st, 1862, and reprinted in the "Ann. and Mag. Nat. Hist." XI., 1863, page 415. See Letters 73, 74, 75.) Now, though I cannot read at present, I much want to know where this is published, that I may procure a copy. Further on, Asa Gray says (after speaking of Agassiz's paper on Glaciers in the "Atlantic Magazine" and his recent book entitled "Method of Study"): "Pray set Wallace upon these articles." So Asa Gray seems to think much of your powers of reviewing, and I mention this as it assuredly is laudari a laudato. I hope you are hard at work, and if you are inclined to tell me, I should much like to know what you are doing. It will be many months, I fear, before I shall do anything.

LETTER 174. TO J.L.A. DE QUATREFAGES. Down, March 27th [1864?].

I had heard that your work was to be translated, and I heard it with pleasure; but I can take no share of credit, for I am not an active, only an honorary member of the Society. Since writing I have finished with extreme interest to the end your admirable work on metamorphosis. (174/1. Probably "Metamorphoses of Man and the Lower Animals." Translated by H. Lawson, 1864.) How well you are acquainted with the works of English naturalists, and how generously you bestow honour on them! Mr. Lubbock is my neighbour, and I have known him since he was a little boy; he is in every way a thoroughly good man; as is my friend Huxley. It gave me real pleasure to see you notice their works as you have done.

LETTER 175. TO T.H. HUXLEY. Down, April 11th [1864].

I am very much obliged for your present of your "Comp. Anatomy." (175/1. "Lectures on the Elements of Comparative Anatomy," 1864.) When strong enough I am sure I shall read it with greatest interest. I could not resist the last chapter, of which I have read a part, and have been much interested about the "inspired idiot." (175/2. In reference to Oken (op. cit., page 282) Huxley says: "I must confess I never read his works without thinking of the epithet of 'inspired idiot' applied to our own

Goldsmith.") If Owen wrote the article "Oken" (175/3. The article on Oken in the eighth edition of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica" is signed "R.O.": Huxley wrote to Darwin (April 18th, 1864), "There is not the smallest question that Owen wrote both the article 'Oken' and the 'Archetype' Book" (Huxley's "Life," I., page 250). Mr. Huxley's statements amount to this: (1) Prof. Owen accuses Goethe of having in 1820 appropriated Oken's theory of the skull, and of having given an apocryphal account of how the idea occurred to himself in 1790. (2) in the same article, page 502, Owen stated it to be questionable whether the discoverer of the true theory of the segmental constitution of the skull (i.e. himself) was excited to his labours, or "in any way influenced by the a priori guesses of Oken." On this Huxley writes, page 288: "But if he himself had not been in any way influenced by Oken, and if the 'Programm' [of Oken] is a mere mass of 'a priori guesses,' how comes it that only three years before Mr. Owen could write thus? 'Oken, ce genie profond et penetrant, fut le premier qui entrevit la verite, guide par l'heureuse idee de l'arrangement des os craniens en segments, comme ceux du rachis, appeles vertebres...'" Later on Owen wrote: "Cela servira pour exemple d'une examen scrupuleux des faits, d'une appreciation philosophique de leurs relations et analogies, etc." (From "Principes d'Osteologie comparee, ou Recherches sur l'Archetype," etc., pages 155, 1855). (3) Finally Huxley says, page 289, plainly: "The fact is that, so far from not having been 'in any way influenced' by Oken, Prof. Owen's own contributions to this question are the merest Okenism, remanie.") and the French work on the Archetype (points you do not put quite clearly), he never did a baser act...You are so good a Christian that you will hardly understand how I chuckle over this bit of baseness. I hope you keep well and hearty; I honour your wisdom at giving up at present Society for Science. But, on the other hand, I feel it in myself possible to get to care too much for Natural Science and too little for other things. I am getting better, I almost dare to hope permanently; for my sickness is decidedly less--for twenty-seven days consecutively I was sick many times daily, and lately I was five days free. I long to do a little work again. The magnificent (by far the most magnificent, and too magnificent) compliment which you paid me at the end of your "Origin of Species" (175/4. A title applied to the "Lectures to Working Men," that "green little book" referred to in Letter 156. Speaking of Mr. Darwin's work he says (page 156): "I believe that if you strip it of its theoretical part, it still remains one of the greatest encyclopaedias of biological doctrine that any one man ever brought forth; and I believe that, if you take it as the embodiment of an hypothesis, it is destined to be the guide of biological and psychological speculation for the next three or four generations.') I have met with reprinted from you two or three times lately.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment