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Letter 3822

Darwin, C. R. to Hooker, J. D.

24 [Nov 1862]


Sends Asa Gray letter: “nearly as mad as ever in our English eyes”.

Bates’s paper is admirable. The act of segregation of varieties into species was never so plainly brought forth.

CD is a little sorry that his present work is leading him to believe rather more in the direct action of physical conditions. Regrets it because it lessens the glory of natural selection and is so confoundedly doubtful.

JDH laid too much stress on importance of crossing with respect to origin of species; but certainly it is important in keeping forms stable.

If only Owen could be excluded from Council of Royal Society Falconer would be good to put in. CD must come down to London to see what he can do.

Falconer’s article in Journal of the Geological Society [18 (1862): 348–69] shows him coming round on permanence of species, but he does not like natural selection.

Sends Lythrum salicaria diagram.


Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker.

I have just received enclosed for you,f1 & I have thought that you would like to read the latter half of A. Grays letter to me, as it is political & nearly as mad as ever in our English eyes.—f2 You will see how the loss of the power of bullying is in fact the sore loss to the men of the north from disunion.—

I return with thanks Bates’ letter, which I was glad to see.f3 It was very good of you writing to him; for he is a man, who evidently wants encouragement.— I have now finished his paper (but have read nothing else in the volume);f4 it seems to me admirable. To my mind the act of segregation of varieties into species was never so plainly brought forward; & there are heaps of capital miscellaneous observations.

I hardly know why I am a little sorry, but my present work is leading me to believe rather more in the direct action of physical conditions.—f5 I presume I regret it, because it lessens the glory of Natural selection, & is so confoundedly doubtful.— Perhaps I shall change again when I get all my facts under one point of view, & a pretty hard job this will be.—

Thanks for soundings off Ireland, which I have been glad to see.—f6

What a pleasant letter your last was.— When shall you begin your great work “The Aristocracy”! By the Lord how it would sell!f7 I noted your opening sentence in Review of Orchids on my second reading, as laughably like Lindley.—f8 In that Review, it seemed to me that you laid rather too much stress on importance of crossing with respect to origin of species; yet certainly it is very important in keeping forms stable.—

What a thing it would be if Owen were excluded by the Socy. from the Council:f9 I do not think he is fit man; but I hate him so I shd. not like to vote against him, as I should never know whether I did it honestly. And what a sting it would be to put in good honest Falconer!f10 I doubt whether I could stand excitement of public meeting; but I must come soon to London & try what I can do.—

Have you seen Falconer’s paper in last Geolog. Journal versus Owen;f11 he pays me an extraordinary compliment, but what is far better, I think I see he is slowly coming round about permanence of species—f12 In some M.S. of his, which I have seen, this is pretty clear; but he does not like N. Selection.f13 Parts of Falconer’s paper strike me as quite admirably written.—

I am sorry to hear about your Governess—good & bad they are the trouble of one’s life.f14 You must not write so often, for it must be as great a bore to you to write as it is a very great pleasure to me to receive them.

Ever yours affecly— | C. Darwin

Asa Gray’s letter to you is fine excuse for writing.— I enclose Lythrum salicaria Diagram.—f15 Study it or burn it. In my opinion it is a very curious case of generation.—

You must read, if you want to understand, the side description of parts & M.S. at bottom of diagram.—


King St Leicester 17 Nov 1862

My Dear Dr Hooker

I need not say how glad I am to have your good opinion, (given so promptly) on my little essay. To tell you the truth I bestowed extra pains on it because I considered that what I had previously done was not sufficient to merit the high estimation which yourself and Mr Darwin so very kindly placed upon it. As to being satisfied with the treatment of the Society I shall consider myself a lucky man to escape a severe scolding (I know Kippist will inflict it) for putting it to so much expense. Mr Busk rather pressed me towards the last & I finished in a hurry, consequently I had to rewrite about 2 pages besides other alterations after the treatise was put in type. The printer was also very careless in altering some of the type in some sheets, which had to be changed so I am afraid the expense altogether will be great.

You hit me on what I know is a weak point. You will recollect our discussion (by letter) last winter & will have perceived how much I have been influenced by your teaching; for I have abandoned the notion that physical conditions on the individuals have had anything to do with the production of those close imitations figured. But I find it difficult to abandon the idea of some effect being produced directly on individuals by the action of physical conditions. If half a dozen beetles belonging to different genera show brassy varieties when living under the sea air; if a number of butterflies equally independent of each other have their orange colour changed into brown in the interior of the S. American continent & if many different plants become changed in a similar way on the sea side or on a mountain it seems to me that all have been operated upon by local physical conditions. But your remarks I believe will tend to change my opinion for I can see, by their light, that Selection may have been after all the cause of the establishment of the varietal forms.

I have thought that when a species first migrated, say to the seaside, the effects of sea-air would be visible in a generation or two & therefore that the maritime variety would be due to direct action. If, however, it required a very great number of generations to effect the change we now see, why then of course Nat. Select. must have played a part. You would say, as to a succulent maritime var. of a plant, that its original parent (its condition before migrating to sea-side) varied in a succulent direction quite as much in the interior of the land as on the sea side, but that the sea-side habitat favoured the first germs of succulence & led them on generation after generation; whereas the interior habitat neglected them or favoured the opposite tendency.

I have no doubt you have facts to show that a plant like those we are discussing originally showed (in the first one or two generations) no more tendency to succulence on the sea side than in the interior & therefore I give it up.— I shall be most anxious to have Mr Darwins opinion on the essay. My book is getting on   I have had 6 sheets of proof down already.

Yours sincerely | H W Bates

Does Linn. Soc. allow coloured plates to author’s 25 copies? Some societies do not.


[DIAG HERE] very big stigma [LEFT ARROW] Large green pollen [RIGHT ARROW] middle-sized yellow pollen middle-sized yellow pollen Smallest yellow pollen calyx. smallest yellow pollen (Long-style) (Mid-styled) (Short-style)

These three hermaphrodites coexist in about equal numbers; they differ greatly & definitely in length of pistil. Each form has two sorts of pollen; & altogether the three forms have three sorts of pollen & three sorts of pistils. The red lines show which pollen produces full fertility; ie each stigma can be fertilised only by pollen of the stamens of corresponding height in the other two forms.— (pollen is attached to different parts of Bees’ bodies). Thus long-styled cannot be fertilised by either of its own two kinds of pollen, & only by the large green pollen of the tallest stamens of the mid-styled & short-styled. The long-styled could exist & seed if in company with either one of the two other forms; but then half its own anthers would be superfluous. Thus if long-styled & midstyled lived together without short-styled, the shorter stamens of both would be utterly useless. Hence we here have a triple marriage alliance between three Hermaphrodites! All this is certainly proved; but mid-styled is anomalous & can be partially fertilised by some of stamens of non-corresponding height; hence I will not publish, till more experiments are tried.—

Endorsement: ‘Nov/62’



CD probably refers to proof-sheets of part of the November 1862 number of the American Journal of Science and Arts, in which A. Gray 1862b and 1862e were published. Asa Gray enclosed a set of proof-sheets for CD with his letter of 10 November 1862, and apparently also enclosed a set for Hooker (see letter to Asa Gray, 26[–7] November [1862]). Hooker discussed A. Gray 1862e in his reply to this letter (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 26 November 1862 and n. 2).
See letter from Asa Gray, 10 November 1862 and n. 14.
See enclosure.
Bates 1862. The third part of volume 23 of the Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, in which this paper appeared, was published on 13 November 1862 (Raphael 1970); in his letter to CD of [15 and] 20 November [1862], Hooker discussed several other papers in this part of the journal.
In his letter to CD of [15 and] 20 November [1862], Hooker mentioned his having criticised Bates’s endorsement of the direct influence of physical causes on variation. CD was preparing a draft of the part of Variation dealing with ‘Facts of variation of Plants’ (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)). He concluded his discussion of varieties of maize by examining the facts concerning the changes effected by Europe’s climate on newly imported American varieties; he noted that after a few generations, some of the seeds became rounded, approaching the common European forms, and stated that this afforded ‘the most remarkable instance’ known to him of ‘the direct and prompt action of climate on a plant’ (Variation 1: 322). In his discussion of the ‘laws of variation’ in Origin, pp. 131–70, CD noted that the ‘external conditions of life’, such as climate and food, seemed to have ‘induced some slight modifications’ of structure (p. 167); however, he emphasised his view that it was ‘the steady accumulation, through natural selection, of such differences, when beneficial to the individual’, that gave rise to ‘all the more important modifications of structure’ (p. 170).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [15 and] 20 November [1862] and n. 2.
Letter from J. D. Hooker, [15 and] 20 November [1862] and n. 17.
The reference is to John Lindley, in whose style Hooker had written a review of Orchids for the Gardeners‘ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette ([J. D. Hooker] 1862c; see letters from J. D. Hooker, 7 November 1862 and [15 and] 20 November [1862], and letter to J. D. Hooker, [10–]12 November [1862]). The opening sentence (p. 789) reads: ’It is not unadvisedly that we have so long delayed reviewing the work that heads this article.‘ CD’s annotated copy of the Gardeners’ Chronicle is in the Cory Library, Cambridge Botanic Garden; CD kept in a separate parcel his copy of the numbers in which [J. D. Hooker] 1862c appeared (see DAR 222 and DAR 75: 1–12).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [15 and] 20 November [1862] and nn. 10 and 12. Richard Owen was elected to the council of the Royal Society at the anniversary meeting of the society on 1 December 1862 (Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 12: 299).
Hugh Falconer. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [15 and] 20 November [1862].
Falconer 1862.
Falconer began his paper, ‘On the disputed affinity of the mammalian genus Plagiaulax from the Purbeck beds’, by referring to CD as ‘One of the most accurate observers and original thinkers of our time’ (Falconer 1862, p. 348). See also letter to Hugh Falconer, 14 November [1862] and nn. 7 and 9.
CD refers to a portion of the manuscript of Falconer 1863 that he had seen (see letter to Hugh Falconer, 1 October [1862]).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [15 and] 20 November [1862] and n. 25; the governess has not been identified.
The diagram is in DAR 115: 279b.
Hooker’s letter to Bates of 13 November 1862 is reproduced in Bates 1892, pp. xlvi–xlvii. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, [15 and] 20 November [1862].
In his letter to Bates of 13 November 1862, Hooker, who was a vice-president of the Linnean Society of London, expressed a hope that Bates had found the society to have ‘done justice’ to Bates 1862 (Bates 1892, p. xlvi; see also n. 4, above). Bates refers to the fact that he had incurred additional expense for the society by making extensive alterations to the proofs of Bates 1862 (see letter from H. W. Bates, 17 October 1862); Richard Kippist was librarian of the Linnean Society.
George Busk was one of the secretaries of the Linnean Society.
In his letter to Bates of 13 November 1862, Hooker had criticised Bates’s attempt to account for some of the variations in species of Lepidoptera by the direct action of ‘physical conditions’ (Bates 1892, pp. xlvi–xlvii). See also letter from J. D. Hooker, [15 and] 20 November [1862] and n. 6.
CD, Bates, and Hooker had corresponded on this subject earlier in the year (see letters from J. D. Hooker, [10 March 1862], 17 March 1862, and [23 March 1862], and letters to J. D. Hooker, 14 March [1862], 18 March [1862], and 26 [March 1862]).
See letter to H. W. Bates, 20 November [1862].
Bates 1863.
The drawing is an enclosure to the letter to J. D. Hooker, 24 [November 1862] (Correspondence vol. 10). Note that this enclosure was published in the Supplement to vol. 13 of the Correspondence and the rest of this note, and the subsequent notes, are from that volume. The original drawing is in CUL DAR 115: 279b. The date is established by CD’s comment to Hooker in his letter of 24 [November 1862] (Correspondence vol. 10) that he was enclosing a diagram of Lythrum salicaria; see also ibid., letter to J. D. Hooker, [10–]12 November [1862]. CD sent similar diagrams in 1862 to two other correspondents (see ibid., letter to W. E. Darwin, [2–3 August 1862], and letter to Asa Gray, [3–]4 September [1862]). A similar diagram was published in CD’s ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’, p. 171 (Collected papers 2: 107), and Forms of flowers, p. 139.
In the original diagram, the red lines were drawn in crayon; they are represented here by dashed lines.
CD started crossing the three forms of Lythrum salicaria at the end of July 1862, and also began observing their pollination by bees; see, for example, Correspondence vol. 10, letters to Asa Gray, 28 July [1862] and n. 16, and [3–]4 September [1862]. Most of CD’s notes on his experiments on and observations of Lythrum for 1862, 1863, and 1864 are in DAR 27.2B; his later work on Lythrum is in DAR 109.
In 1862, as CD was counting the seeds resulting from his crosses of Lythrum salicaria, he grew increasingly confident that each of the three forms (long-styled, mid-styled, and short-styled) were hermaphrodites, and together included three females and three males (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to J. D. Hooker, 6 October [1862], and letter to Asa Gray, 16 October [1862]). However, he also began to suspect additional differences in the pollen of the mid-styled form, and after making almost 100 crosses in 1862, he was determined to make more in 1863 (see ibid., letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [October 1862] and nn. 11 and 12, letter to W. E. Darwin, 4 [November 1862], and letter to Asa Gray, 6 November [1862]). See also ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’, pp. 169, 186, 188 (Collected papers 2: 106, 119, and 122), and Forms of flowers, pp. 137–8, 162–4.
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