CD returns a letter from Wollaston.
Although opposed to the Forbesian doctrine [of continental extension] as a general rule, CD would have no objection to its being proved in some cases. Does not think Wollaston has proved it; nor can anyone until more is known about the means of distribution of insects – but the identity of the two faunas is certainly interesting.
His health is very poor and his "everlasting species-Book" quite overwhelms him with work. It is beyond his powers, but he hopes to live to finish it.
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Lyell
I have been particularly glad to see Wollaston's letter. The news did not require any breaking to me; for though as a general rule I am
much opposed to the Forbesian continental extensions, I have no objection whatever to
its being proved in some cases. Not that I can admit that W. has by any means
proved it; nor, I think, can anyone else, till we know something of the means of
distribution of insects.— But the close similarity
or identity of the two Faunas is certainly very interesting.— I am extremely
glad to hear that your Madeira paper is making progress; & I shall be most
curious to see. I sh
My health has been very poor of late, & I am going in a week's time for a fortnight of hydropathy & rest.— My everlasting species-Book quite overwhelms me with work— It is beyond my powers, but I hope to live to finish it.—
Farewell | My dear Lyell | Ever yours | C. Darwin
- f1 2077.f1Dated by the reference to CD's intention to visit a hydropathic establishment ‘in a week's time’ (see n. 5, below).
- f2 2077.f2The letter from Thomas Vernon Wollaston to Lyell has not been found, but its subject matter may be inferred from a passage in the introduction to Wollaston 1857. Having stated that the Coleoptera of Porto Santo and the Dezertas had more species in common than they did with Madeira as a whole, Wollaston wrote (Wollaston 1857, p. xv):
And, without attempting to solve a geological problem, upon which Sir Charles Lyell will probably be able in a short time to throw considerable light, or to add any real evidence either in favour or against the existence of an ancient connective land; it does certainly appear to me, judging simply from Coleopterous data, as if the insect-population had possessed wonderful facilities, at some remote period, of migrating to and fro (as though along a slightly elevated mountain-ridge) between Porto Santo and the Dezertas, and in like manner … between the latter rocks and the eastern extremity of Madeira.
- f3 2077.f3Both Lyell and Wollaston supported the idea of specific centres of creation and the land-bridge doctrine as an explanation for geographical distribution. See letters to Charles Lyell, 16 [June 1856] and 25 June , and letters from Charles Lyell, 17 June 1856, and from T. V. Wollaston, [27 June 1856].
- f4 2077.f4See letter to Charles Lyell, 10 November , n. 4.
- f5 2077.f5CD left for Edward Wickstead Lane's hydropathic establishment at Moor Park, Surrey, on 22 April and returned to Down on 6 May 1857 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).