Does JDH's Wahlenbergia confirm CD's law? Variations of one species assume the character of a distinct but allied species or genus.
Seed-salting: old ones float and germinate.
Owen's "grand paper" [? J. Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Zool.) 2 (1858): 1–37].
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker
Am I right in supposing that in Linnean Journal p. 5. your words “some states of the Wahlenbergia saxicola” means a variation of this species; & does it mean that this variation alone presents “the unequal inclined anthers &c”.
I ask because this wd be a valuable case to add to my list of variations of one species assuming the character of a distinct, but allied species or genus.—
I am particularly interested on this point.—
The briefest answer will suffice. If you had been a stranger I shd have quoted the sentence, but it is far safer to ask.—
Ever yours | C. Darwin
P.S. I have just had a seed case which has surprised me: Fresh Nuts sink in
sea-water; but old Spanish nuts float for between 75 & upwards of
90 days— after this prolonged bath, I opened one & it looked
so fresh, that I planted 2 others & one has germinated
well— I had fancied a seed with so much organized
What a capital number of the Linnean Journal! Owen's is a grand Paper; but I
cannot swallow Man making a division as distinct from a Chimpanzee, as an
ornithorhynchus from a Horse: I wonder what a Chimpanzee
- f1 2117.f1The year is established by CD's reference to experiments testing the viability of nuts, which were recorded in his Experimental book (see n. 4, below).
- f2 2117.f2The passage referred to discusses the problem with using the anthers and corolla as characters for classifying the Lobeliaceae (J. D. Hooker and Thomson 1858, p. 5).
- f3 2117.f3CD included this case in his chapter on ‘Laws of variation’ (Natural selection, p. 327).
- f4 2117.f4Under the heading ‘1857 Dryed Seeds’ in CD's Experimental book, pp. 12–13 (DAR 157a), there is a list of the various nuts that he floated in salt water. In the Experimental book, p. 12, an entry dated 16 May 1857 reads: ‘3d
nut still floating after 90 days’. On 2 July CD recorded: ‘one of these two germinated’.
- f5 2117.f5In a paper on the classification of the Mammalia, Richard Owen proposed to use the brain to delimit the ‘most natural primary divisions’ of the class (Owen 1857b, p. 14). Applying this criterion to man, he concluded: ‘I am led to regard the genus Homo, as not merely a representative of a distinct order, but of a distinct subclass of the Mammalia’ (ibid., p. 20).