Letter 193 To V Carus

(193/1. The following letter refers to the 4th edition of the "Origin," 1866, which was translated by Professor Carus, and formed the 3rd German edition. Carus continued to translate Darwin's books, and a strong bond of friendship grew up between author and translator (see "Life and Letters," III., page 48). Nageli's pamphlet was first noticed in the 5th English edition.)

Down, November 21st, 1866.

...With respect to a note on Nageli (193/2. "Entstehung und Begriff der Naturhistorischen Art," an Address given before the Royal Academy of Sciences at Munich, March 28th, 1865. See "Life and Letters," III., page 50, for Mr. Darwin's letter to the late Prof. Nageli.) I find on consideration it would be too long; for so good a pamphlet ought to be discussed at full length or not at all. He makes a mistake in supposing that I say that useful characters are always constant. His view about distinct species converging and acquiring the same identical structure is by implication answered in the discussion which I have given on the endless diversity of means for gaining the same end.

The most important point, as it seems to me, in the pamphlet is that on the morphological characters of plants, and I find I could not answer this without going into much detail.

The answer would be, as it seems to me, that important morphological characters, such as the position of the ovules and the relative position of the stamens to the ovarium (hypogynous, perigynous, etc.) are sometimes variable in the same species, as I incidentally mention when treating of the ray-florets in the Compositae and Umbelliferae; and I do not see how

Nageli could maintain that differences in such characters prove an inherent tendency towards perfection. I see that I have forgotten to say that you have my fullest consent to append any discussion which you may think fit to the new edition. As for myself I cannot believe in spontaneous generation, and though I expect that at some future time the principle of life will be rendered intelligible, at present it seems to me beyond the confines of science.

LETTER 194. TO T.H. HUXLEY. Down, December 22nd [1866?].

I suppose that you have received Hackel's book (194/1. "Generelle Morphologie," 1866.) some time ago, as I have done. Whenever you have had time to read through some of it, enough to judge by, I shall be very curious to hear your judgment. I have been able to read a page or two here and there, and have been interested and instructed by parts. But my vague impression is that too much space is given to methodical details, and I can find hardly any facts or detailed new views. The number of new words, to a man like myself, weak in his Greek, is something dreadful. He seems to have a passion for defining, I daresay very well, and for coining new words. From my very vague notions on the book, and from its immense size, I should fear a translation was out of the question. I see he often quotes both of us with praise. I am sure I should like the book much, if I could read it straight off instead of groaning and swearing at each sentence. I have not yet had time to read your Physiology (194/2. "Lessons in Elementary Physiology," 1866.) book, except one chapter; but I have just re-read your book on "Man's Place, etc.," and I think I admire it more this second time even than the first. I doubt whether you will ever have time, but if ever you have, do read the chapter on hybridism in the new edition of the "Origin" (194/3. Fourth Edition (1866).), for I am very anxious to make you think less seriously on that difficulty. I have improved the chapter a good deal, I think, and have come to more definite views. Asa Gray and Fritz Muller (the latter especially) think that the new facts on illegitimate offspring of dimorphic plants, throw much indirect light on the subject. Now that I have worked up domestic animals, I am convinced of the truth of the Pallasian (194/4. See Letter 80.) view of loss of sterility under domestication, and this seems to me to explain much. But I had no intention, when I began this note, of running on at such length on hybridism; but you have been Objector-General on this head.

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