Letter 67 To Jd Hooker

Moor Park, Farnham, Surrey [October] 29th [1858].

As you say that you have good private information that Government does intend to remove the collection from the British Museum, the case to me individually is wholly changed; and as the memorial now stands, with such expression at its head, I have no objection whatever to sign. I must express a very strong opinion that it would be an immense evil to remove to Kensington, not on account of the men of science so much as for the masses in the whole eastern and central part of London. I further think it would be a great evil to separate a typical collection (which I can by no means look at as only popular) from the collection in full. Might not some expression be added, even stronger than those now used, on the display (which is a sort of vanity in the curators) of such a vast number of birds and mammals, with such a loss of room. I am low at the conviction that Government will never give money enough for a really good library.

I do not want to be crotchety, but I should hate signing without some expression about the site being easily accessible to the populace of the whole of London.

I repeat, as things now stand, I shall be proud to sign.

LETTER 68. TO T.H. HUXLEY. Down, November 3rd [1858].

I most entirely subscribe to all you say in your note. I have had some correspondence with Hooker on the subject. As it seems certain that a movement in the British Museum is generally anticipated, my main objection is quite removed; and, as I have told Hooker, I have no objection whatever to sign a memorial of the nature of the one he sent me or that now returned. Both seem to me very good. I cannot help being fearful whether Government will ever grant money enough for books. I can see many advantages in not being under the unmotherly wing of art and archaeology, and my only fear was that we were not strong enough to live without some protection, so profound, I think, is the contempt for and ignorance of Natural Science amongst the gentry of England. Hooker tells me that I should be converted into favour of Kensington Gore if I heard all that could be said in its favour; but I cannot yet help thinking so western a locality a great misfortune. Has Lyell been consulted? His would be a powerful name, and such names go for much with our ignorant Governors. You seem to have taken much trouble in the business, and I honour you for it.

LETTER 69. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, November 9th [1858].

I am quite delighted to hear about the Copley and Lyell. (69/1. The Copley Medal of the Royal Society was awarded to Lyell in 1858.) I have grown hot with indignation many times thinking of the way the proposal was met last year, according to your account of it. I am also very glad to hear of Hancock (Albany Hancock received a Royal Medal in 1858.); it will show the provincials are not neglected. Altogether the medals are capital. I shall be proud and bound to help in any way about the eloge, which is rather a heavy tax on proposers of medals, as I found about Richardson and Westwood; but Lyell's case will be twenty times as difficult. I will begin this very evening dotting down a few remarks on Lyell; though, no doubt, most will be superfluous, and several would require deliberate consideration. Anyhow, such notes may be a preliminary aid to you; I will send them in a few days' time, and will do anything else you may wish...

P.S.--I have had a letter from Henslow this morning. He comes here on [Thursday] 25th, and I shall be delighted to see him; but it stops my coming to the Club, as I had arranged to do, and now I suppose I shall not be in London till December 16th, if odds and ends do not compel me to come sooner. Of course I have not said a word to Henslow of my change of plans. I had looked forward with pleasure to a chat with you and others.

P.S. 2.--I worked all yesterday evening in thinking, and have written the paper sent by this post this morning. Not one sentence would do, but it is the sort of rough sketch which I should have drawn out if I had had to do it. God knows whether it will at all aid you. It is miserably written, with horridly bad metaphors, probably horrid bad grammar. It is my deliberate impression, such as I should have written to any friend who had asked me what I thought of Lyell's merits. I will do anything else which you may wish, or that I can.

LETTER 70. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, December 30th [1858].

I have had this copied to save you trouble, as it was vilely written, and is now vilely expressed.

Your letter has interested me greatly; but how inextricable are the subjects which we are discussing! I do not think I said that I thought the productions of Asia were HIGHER (70/1. On the use of the terms "higher" and "lower" see Letters 35 and 36.) than those of Australia. I intend carefully to avoid this expression (70/2. In a paper of pencilled notes pinned into Darwin's copy of the "Vestiges" occur the words: "Never use the word (sic) higher and lower."), for I do not think that any one has a definite idea what is meant by higher, except in classes which can loosely be compared with man. On our theory of Natural Selection, if the organisms of any area belonging to the Eocene or Secondary periods were put into competition with those now existing in the same area (or probably in any part of the world) they (i.e. the old ones) would be beaten hollow and be exterminated; if the theory be true, this must be so. In the same manner, I believe, a greater number of the productions of Asia, the largest territory in the world, would beat those of Australia, than conversely. So it seems to be between Europe and North America, for I can hardly believe in the difference of the stream of commerce causing so great a difference in the proportions of immigrants. But this sort of highness (I wish I could invent some expression, and must try to do so) is different from highness in the common acceptation of the word. It might be connected with degradation of organisation: thus the blind degraded worm-like snake (Typhlops) might supplant the true earthworm. Here then would be degradation in the class, but certainly increase in the scale of organisation in the general inhabitants of the country. On the other hand, it would be quite as easy to believe that true earthworms might beat out the Typhlops. I do not see how this "competitive highness" can be tested in any way by us. And this is a comfort to me when mentally comparing the

Silurian and Recent organisms. Not that I doubt a long course of "competitive highness" will ultimately make the organisation higher in every sense of the word; but it seems most difficult to test it. Look at the Erigeron canadensis on the one hand and Anacharis (70/3. Anacharis (Elodea canadensis) and Erigeron canadensis are both successful immigrants from America.) on the other; these plants must have some advantage over European productions, to spread as they have. Yet who could discover it? Monkeys can co-exist with sloths and opossums, orders at the bottom of the scale; and the opossums might well be beaten by placental insectivores, coming from a country where there were no monkeys, etc. I should be sorry to give up the view that an old and very large continuous territory would generally produce organisms higher in the competitive sense than a smaller territory. I may, of course, be quite wrong about the plants of Australia (and your facts are, of course, quite new to me on their highness), but when I read the accounts of the immense spreading of European plants in Australia, and think of the wool and corn brought thence to Europe, and not one plant naturalised, I can hardly avoid the suspicion that Europe beats Australia in its productions. If many (i.e. more than one or two) Australian plants are TRULY naturalised in India (N.B. Naturalisation on Indian mountains hardly quite fair, as mountains are small islands in the land) I must strike my colours. I should be glad to hear whether what I have written very obscurely on this point produces ANY effect on you; for I want to clear my mind, as perhaps I should put a sentence or two in my abstract on this subject. (70/4. Abstract was Darwin's name for the "Origin" during parts of 1858 and 1859.)

I have always been willing to strike my colours on former immense tracts of land in oceans, if any case required it in an eminent degree. Perhaps yours may be a case, but at present I greatly prefer land in the Antarctic regions, where now there is only ice and snow, but which before the Glacial period might well have been clothed by vegetation. You have thus to invent far less land, and that more central; and aid is got by floating ice for transporting seed.

I hope I shall not weary you by scribbling my notions at this length. After writing last to you I began to think that the Malay Land might have existed through part of the Glacial epoch. Why I at first doubted was from the difference of existing mammals in different islands; but many are very close, and some identical in the islands, and I am constantly deceiving myself from thinking of the little change which the shells and plants, whilst all co-existing in their own northern hemisphere, have undergone since the Glacial epoch; but I am convinced that this is most false reasoning, for the relations of organism to new organisms, when thrown together, are by far the most important.

When you speak of plants having undergone more change since old geological periods than animals, are you not rather comparing plants with higher animals? Think how little some, indeed many, mollusca have changed. Remember Silurian Nautilus, Lingula and other Brachiopods, and Nucula, and amongst Echinoderms, the Silurian Asterias, etc.

What you say about lowness of brackish-water plants interests me. I remember that they are apt to be social (i.e. many individuals in comparison to specific forms), and I should be tempted to look at this as a case of a very small area, and consequently of very few individuals in comparison with those on the land or in pure fresh-water; and hence less development (odious word!) than on land or fresh-water. But here comes in your two-edged sword! I should like much to see any paper on plants of brackish water or on the edge of the sea; but I suppose such has never been published.

Thanks about Nelumbium, for I think this was the very plant which from the size of seed astonished me, and which A. De Candolle adduced as a marvellous case of almost impossible transport. I now find to my surprise that herons do feed sometimes on [illegible] fruit; and grebes on seeds of Compositae.

Many thanks for offer of help about a grant for the Abstract; but I should hope it would sell enough to pay expenses.

I am reading your letter and scribbling as I go on.

Your oak and chestnut case seems very curious; is it not the more so as beeches have gone to, or come from the south? But I vehemently protest against you or any one making such cases especial marvels, without you are prepared to say why each species in any flora is twice or thrice, etc., rarer than each other species which grows in the same soil. The more I think, the more evident is it to me how utterly ignorant we are of the thousand contingencies on which range, frequency, and extinction of each species depend.

I have sometimes thought, from Edentata (70/5. No doubt a slip of the pen for Monotremata.) and Marsupialia, that Australia retains a remnant of the former and ancient state of the fauna of the world, and I suppose that you are coming to some such conclusion for plants; but is not the relation between the Cape and Australia too special for such views? I infer from your writings that the relation is too special between Fuegia and Australia to allow us to look at the resemblances in certain plants as the relics of mundane resemblances. On the other hand, [have] not the Sandwich Islands in the Northern Hemisphere some odd relations to Australia? When we are dead and gone what a noble subject will be Geographical Distribution!

You may say what you like, but you will never convince me that I do not owe you ten times as much as you can owe me. Farewell, my dear Hooker. I am sorry to hear that you are both unwell with influenza. Do not bother yourself in answering anything in this, except your general impression on the battle between N. and S.

CHAPTER 1.III.--Evolution, 1859-1863.

LETTER 71. TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, April 6th, 1859.

I this morning received your pleasant and friendly note of November 30th. The first part of my MS. is in Murray's hands to see if he likes to publish it. There is no preface, but a short introduction, which must be read by every one who reads my book. The second paragraph in the introduction (71/1. "Origin of Species," Edition I., 1859, pages 1 and 2.) I have had copied verbatim from my foul copy, and you will, I hope, think that I have fairly noticed your paper in the "Linn. Journal." (71/2. "On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties, and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection." By Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace. Communicated by Sir Charles Lyell and J.D. Hooker. "Journ. Linn. Soc." Volume III., page 45, 1859. (Read July 1st, 1858.)) You must remember that I am now publishing only an abstract, and I give no references. I shall, of course, allude to your paper on distribution (71/3. "On the Law which has regulated the Introduction of New Species" (A.R. Wallace). "Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist." Volume XVI., page 184, 1855. The law alluded to is thus stated by Wallace: "Every species has come into existence coincident both in space and time with a pre-existing closely allied species" (loc. cit., page 186).); and I have added that I know from correspondence that your explanation of your law is the same as that which I offer. You are right, that I came to the conclusion that selection was the principle of change from the study of domesticated productions; and then, reading Malthus, I saw at once how to apply this principle. Geographical distribution and geological relations of extinct to recent inhabitants of South America first led me to the subject: especially the case of the Galapagos Islands. I hope to go to press in the early part of next month. It will be a small volume of about five hundred pages or so. I will of course send you a copy. I forget whether I told you that Hooker, who is our best British botanist and perhaps the best in the world, is a full convert, and is now going immediately to publish his confession of faith; and I expect daily to see proof-sheets. (71/4. "The Flora of Australia, etc., an Introductory Essay to the Flora of Tasmania." London 1859.) Huxley is changed, and believes in mutation of species: whether a convert to us, I do not quite know. We shall live to see all the younger men converts. My neighbour and an excellent naturalist, J. Lubbock, is an enthusiastic convert. I see that you are doing great work in the Archipelago; and most heartily do I sympathise with you. For God's sake take care of your health. There have been few such noble labourers in the cause of Natural Science as you are.

P.S. You cannot tell how I admire your spirit, in the manner in which you have taken all that was done about publishing all our papers. I had actually written a letter to you, stating that I would not publish anything before you had published. I had not sent that letter to the post when I received one from Lyell and Hooker, urging me to send some MS. to them, and allow them to act as they thought fair and honestly to both of us; and I did so.

(71/5. The following is the passage from the Introduction to the "Origin of Species," referred to in the first paragraph of the above letter.)

"My work is now nearly finished; but as it will take me two or three years more to complete it, and as my health is far from strong, I have been urged to publish this Abstract. I have more especially been induced to do this, as Mr. Wallace, who is now studying the Natural History of the Malay Archipelago, has arrived at almost exactly the same general conclusions that I have on the origin of species. Last year he sent to me a memoir on this subject, with a request that I would forward it to Sir Charles Lyell, who sent it to the Linnean Society, and it is published in the third volume of the Journal of that Society. Sir C. Lyell and Dr. Hooker, who both knew of my work--the latter having read my sketch of 1844--honoured me by thinking it advisable to publish, with Mr. Wallace's excellent memoir, some brief extracts from my manuscripts."

With respect to reversion, I have been raking up vague recollections of vague facts; and the impression on my mind is rather more in favour of reversion than it was when you were here.

In my abstract (72/1. "The Origin of Species.") I give only a paragraph on the general case of reversion, though I enter in detail on some cases of reversion of a special character. I have not as yet put all my facts on this subject in mass, so can come to no definite conclusion. But as single characters may revert, I must say that I see no improbability in several reverting. As I do not believe any well-founded experiments or facts are known, each must form his opinion from vague generalities. I think you confound two rather distinct considerations; a variation arises from any cause, and reversion is not opposed to this, but solely to its inheritance. Not but what I believe what we must call perhaps a dozen distinct laws are all struggling against each other in every variation which ever arises. To give my impression, if I were forced to bet whether or not, after a hundred generations of growth in a poor sandy soil, a cauliflower and red cabbage would or would not revert to the same form, I must say I would rather stake my money that they would. But in such a case the conditions of life are changed (and here comes the question of direct influence of condition), and there is to be no selection, the comparatively sudden effect of man's selection are left to the free play of reversion.

In short, I dare not come to any conclusion without comparing all facts which I have collected, and I do not think there are many.

Please do not say to any one that I thought my book on species would be fairly popular and have a fairly remunerative sale (which was the height of my ambition), for if it prove a dead failure it would make me the more ridiculous.

I thank you much for your letter. Had I seen the interest of my remark I would have made many more measurements, though I did make several. I stated the facts merely to give the general reader an idea of the thickness of the walls. (73/1. The walls of bees' cells: see Letter 173.)

Especially if I had seen that the fact had any general bearing, I should have stated that as far as I could measure, the walls are by no means perfectly of the same thickness. Also I should have stated that the chief difference is when the thickness of walls of the upper part of the hexagon and of the pyramidal basal plates are contrasted. Will you oblige me by looking with a strong lens at the bit of comb, brushing off with a knife the upper thickened edges, and then compare, by eye alone, the thickness of the walls there with the thickness of the basal plates, as seen in any cross section. I should very much like to hear whether, even in this way, the difference is not perceptible. It is generally thus perceptible by comparing the thickness of the walls of the hexagon (if not taken very close to the angle) near to the basal plates, where the comparison by eye is of course easier. Your letter actually turned me sick with panic; from not seeing any great importance [in the] fact, till I looked at my notes, I did not remember that I made several measurements. I have now repeated the same measurements, roughly with the same general results, but the difference, I think, is hardly double.

I should not have mentioned the thickness of the basal plates at all, had I not thought it would give an unfair notion of the thickness of the walls to state the lesser measurements alone.

I had no thought that you would measure the thickness of the walls of the cells; but if you will, and allow me to give your measurements, it will be an immense advantage. As it is no trouble, I send more specimens. If you measure, please observe that I measured the thickness of the walls of the hexagonal prisms not very near the base; but from your very interesting remarks the lower part of the walls ought to be measured.

Thank you for the suggestion about how bees judge of angles and distances. I will keep it in mind. It is a complete perplexity to me, and yet certainly insects can rudely somehow judge of distance. There are special difficulties on account of the gradation in size between the worker-scells and the larger drone-cells. I am trying to test the case practically by getting combs of different species, and of our own bee from different climates. I have lately had some from the W. Indies of our common bee, but the cells SEEM certainly to be larger; but they have not yet been carefully measured. I will keep your suggestion in mind whenever I return to experiments on living bees; but that will not be soon.

As you have been considering my little discussion in relation to Lord Brougham (74/1. Lord Brougham's paper on "The Mathematical Structure of Bees' Cells," read before the National Institute of France in May, 1858.), and as I have been more vituperated for this part than for almost any other, I should like just to tell you how I think the case stands. The discussion viewed by itself is worth little more than the paper on which it is printed, except in so far as it contains three or four certainly new facts. But to those who are inclined to believe the general truth of the conclusion that species and their instincts are slowly modified by what I call Natural Selection, I think my discussion nearly removes a very great difficulty. I believe in its truth chiefly from the existence of the Melipona, which makes a comb so intermediate in structure between that of the humble and hive-bee, and especially from the new and curious fact of the bees making smooth cups or saucers when they excavated in a thick piece of wax, which saucers stood so close that hexagons were built on their intersecting edges. And, lastly, because when they excavated on a thin slip of wax, the excavation on both sides of similar smooth basins was stopped, and flat planes left between the nearly opposed basins. If my view were wholly false these cases would, I think, never have occurred.

Sedgwick and Co. may abuse me to their hearts' content, but I shall as yet continue to think that mine is a rational explanation (as far as it goes) of their method of work.

LETTER 75. TO W.H. MILLER. Down, December 1st [1859].

Some months ago you were so kind as to say you would measure the thickness of the walls of the basal and side plates of the cell of the bee. Could you find time to do so soon? Why I want it soon, is that I have lately heard from Murray that he sold at his sale far more copies than he has of the "Origin of Species," and that I must immediately prepare a new edition, which I am now correcting. By the way, I hear from Murray that all the attacks heaped on my book do not seem to have at all injured the sale, which will make poor dear old Sedgwick groan. If the basal plates and walls do differ considerably in thickness, as they certainly did in the one or two cells which I measured without particular care (as I never thought the point of any importance), will you tell me the bearing of the fact as simply as you can, for the chance of one so stupid as I am in geometry being able to understand?

Would the greater thickness of the basal plates and of the rim of the hexagons be a good adaptation to carry the vertical weight of the cells filled with honey and supporting clusters of living bees?

Will you endeavour to screw out time and grant me this favour?

P.S. If the result of your measurement of the thickness of the walls turns out at all what I have asserted, would it not be worth while to write a little bit of a paper on the subject of your former note; and "pluck" the bees if they deserve this degradation? Many mathematicians seem to have thought the subject worthy of attention. When the cells are full of honey and hang vertically they have to support a great weight. Can the thicker basal plates be a contrivance to give strength to the whole comb, with less consumption of wax, than if all the sides of the hexagons were thickened?

This crude notion formerly crossed my mind; but of course it is beyond me even to conjecture how the case would be.

A mathematician, Mr. Wright, has been writing on the geometry of bee-cells in the United States in consequence of my book; but I can hardly understand his paper. (75/1. Chauncey Wright, "Remarks on the Architecture of Bees" ("Amer. Acad. Proc." IV., 1857-60, page 432.)

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