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Letter 6248A

Müller, J. F. T. to Darwin, C. R.

17 June 1868

    Summary Add

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    Again thanks CD for trouble in arranging for translation of Für Darwin.

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    Sends addition answering critics of his idea of insect metamorphosis [see Möller ed. 1915–21, 1: 259].

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    Agrees with Charles Lyell's suggested English title "Facts and arguments in favor of Darwin", although perhaps more accurate to call it "Darwinism tested by Carcinology" or "Carcinology as bearing on the origin of species".

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    Says any profit should go to CD for his trouble and expense with the translation.

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    Thanks for seeds of Eschscholtzia.

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    Gives observations on number of climbing plants, including Dilleniacea, Marantacea, Catasetum.

Transcription

Itajahy, Sa. Catharina, Brazil,

17. Juni 1868.

&lldots; . Sie werden schon aus meinem letzten Briefe ersehen haben, dass es mir sehr schmeichelhaft ist, wenn Sie meine Schrift ``Für Darwin'' einer englischen Uebersetzung werth halten. Ich sandte Ihnen dann einige Zusätze; da Sie nun in der neuen Auflage der ``Origin'' sagen, dass wahrscheinlich viele Naturforscher nicht meiner Meinung darin beitreten würden, dass Raupen und Puppenzustände der Insecten nicht von dem Vorfahr aller Insecten ererbt, sondern erst nachträglich erworben worden sind, so lege ich heute eine kurze Besprechung des Gegenstandes bei &lldots; . Was den englischen Titel angeht, so habe ich keine bestimmte Meinung darüber; ich denke, dass der von Sir Ch. Lyell vorgeschlagene ``Facts and arguments in favor of Darwin'' genügen würde. Da alle Thatsachen sich auf Crustaceen beziehen, so könnte der Inhalt des Buches vielleicht noch genauer ausgedrückt werden durch den Titel: ``Darwinism tested by Carcinology'' oder ``Carcinology as bearing on the origin of species''.

Sie haben so viel Mühe mit der Uebersetzung, von allen Kosten abgesehen, dass, wenn wirklich eine Einnahme mit dem Buche erzielt würde, es nur gerecht ist, wenn diese Ihnen bleibt, und ich muss deswegen Ihr freundliches Anerbieten, sie mir zu übermitteln, ablehnen. Es würde mir lieb sein, zwei oder drei Abdrücke der Uebersetzung zu bekommen, eine für mich, eine für meinen Bruder, und eine für Herrn C. Spence Bate in Plymouth.

Vielen Dank für die Samen von Eschscholtzia; einige von denen, die ich mit einem früheren Briefe von Ihnen empfing, haben schon gekeimt&lldots; .

Ich traf auch noch einige Pflanzen, deren auffällige Samen an den offenen Früchten festhaften:

Die Frucht einer kletternden Dilleniacee mit holzigem Stamm öffnet sich in sehr wunderlicher Weise, indem sie zwei grosse Flügel bildet, die innen leuchtend scharlachroth gefärbt sind; jeder Flügel trägt am Ende einen schwarzen Samen mit einer schneeweissen, fleischigen, süssen, aber sehr scharfen Hülle.

Bei einer zweiten strauchigen Pflanze (ich weiss nicht, zu welcher Familie sie gehöhrt) haben die (ein oder zwei) schwarzen Samen auch eine weisse, fleischige, süsse und mehlige Hülle, während die Klappen von bräunlicher Farbe sind.

Bei Maranta fällt das Pericarp in einem Stücke ab, und die wunderlich gekrümmten Samen bleiben eingebettet in eine rothe Pulpa fest auf dem Stiel.

Die Früchte von Bomarea (oder einer kletternden Alstroemeria) sitzen auf langen Stielen in einer grossen Dolde von mehr als 30 Früchten; jede Frucht bildet, nachdem ihre drei Klappen sich geöffnet haben, eine Art Körbchen von zierlicher Form, welches mit den leuchtend rothen Samen gefüllt ist, die eine dünne fleischige Hülle haben. Sie gehören zu den schönsten Erzeugnissen des Pflanzenreiches, und noch jeder, dem ich sie zeigte, hat sie bewundert.

Bei einer unserer Marantaceen öffnet sich die Anthere lange, ehe sich die Blüthe entfaltet, und der Pollen wird, wie bei Canna, auf dem Griffel abgelagert; späterhin wächst ein steriles Staubblatt (oder ein Blumenblatt?) rings um den Griffel und bildet eine Art Scheide mit einem engen Längsschlitz an der inneren Seite; an einer Seite hat diese Scheide einen spornähnlichen Fortsatz ähnlich der Anthere von Catasetum. Wenn man diesen spornähnlichen Fortsatz berührt und ihn ein wenig zur Seite biegt (und ein Insect, welches seinen Rüssel in die lange Blumenröhre einführen wollte, würde das kaum vermeiden können), so öffnet sich die Scheide und biegt sich zurück, während der Griffel sich mit grosser Gewalt vorwärts krümmt und an das gegenüber stehende Blumenblatt schlägt. In den meisten Blumen, bei welchen ich den Griffel in dieser Lage fand, schien der ganze Pollen noch vorhanden zu sein; ich kann aber nicht entscheiden, ob in diesen Fällen der Griffel aus seiner Scheide gesprungen war ohne einen Insectenbesuch oder ob ein zweiter Insectenbesuch nothwendig ist, um den Pollen wegzunehmen; die letztere Möglichkeit scheint mir indessen recht unwahrscheinlich. Hoffentlich kann ich nächsten Sommer die Insecten bei der Arbeit beobachten. Wenn ich einen Grashalm in die Blumenröhre einführte und dadurch bewirkte, dass der Griffel aus seiner Scheide sprang, so blieben nur selten einige Pollenkörner an dem Grashalm haften.

Was die Antheren von Catasetum betrifft, so ist es merkwürdig, wie spät sie sich entwickeln; bei meinem Ausflug fand ich eine schöne Pflanze eines grün blühenden Catasetum mit grossen Knospen; die Blüthen waren leicht als männliche zu erkennen, aber von den Antheren war noch kein Spur zu sehen. Als ich auf der Rückreise nach 4 Wochen zu derselben Stelle kam, blühte die Pflanze, und das Säulchen war mit sehr langen Antheren versehen.— 4 Wochen werden Ihnen eine recht lange Zeit erscheinen; aber ich bitte zu bemerken, dass hier, im Winter, die Entwickelung der Orchideen-Blüthen sehr langsam vor sich geht.

Ist es nicht merkwürdig, dass eine Gattung von Compositen (nemlich Wulffia), von denen doch die Meisten in ihrem Pappus eine so wundervolle Einrichtung zur Verbreitung durch den Wind haben, begonnen hat (wahrscheinlich in verhältnissmässig neuer Zeit), Beeren zu entwickeln? In der That wächst die eine Art von Wulffia, welche ich gesehen habe, in Urwäldern, und hier wird wohl die Verbreitung durch Vögel vorzuziehen sein.

Mit herzlichem Dank für alle Mühe, welche die Uebersetzung meines Buches Ihnen verursacht, und für alle Ihre Güte glauben Sie, dass ich, werther Herr, aufrichtigst der Ihrige bin | Fritz Müller



[Enclosure: 1]

I will here briefly give my reasons for the opinion that the so-called ``complete metamorphosis'' of Insects, in which these animals quit the egg as grubs or caterpillars, and afterwards become quiescent pupæ incapable of feeding, was not inherited from the primitive ancestor of all Insects, but acquired at a later period.

The order Orthoptera, including the Pseudoneuroptera (Ephemera, Libellula, &c.) appears to approach nearest to the primitive form of Insects. In favour of this view we have:—

1. The structure of their buccal organs, especially the formation of the labium, ``which retains, either perfectly or approximately, the original form of a second pair of maxillæ'' (Gerstäcker).

2. The segmentation of the abdomen; ``like the labium, the abdomen also very generally retains its original segmentation, which is shown in the development of eleven segments'' (Gerstäcker). The Orthoptera with eleven segments in the abdomen, agree perfectly in the number of their body-segments with the Prawn-larva represented in fig. 33, or indeed, with the higher Crustacea (Podophthalma and Edriophthalma) in general, in which the historically youngest last thoracic segment (see p. 123), which is sometime late-developed, or destitute of appendages, or even deficient, is still wanting.

3. That, as in the Crustacea, the sexual orifice and anus are placed upon different segments; ``whilst the former is situated in the ninth segment, the latter occurs in the eleventh'' (Gerstäcker).

4. Their palæontological occurrence; ``in a fossil state the Orthoptera make their appearance the earliest of all Insects, namely as early as the Carboniferous formation, in which they exceed all others in number'' (Gerstäcker).

5. The absence of uniformity of habit at the present day in an order so small when compared with the Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, &c. For this also is usually a phenomenon characteristic of very ancient groups of forms which have already overstepped the climax of their development, and is explicable by extinction in mass. A Beetle or a Butterfly is to be recognised as such at the first glance, but only a thorough investigation can demonstrate the mutual relationships of Termes, Blatta, Mantis, Forficula, Ephemera, Libellula, &c. I may refer to a corresponding remarkable example from the vegetable world: amonst Ferns the genera Aneimia, Schizæa and Lygodium, belonging to the group Schizæaceæ which is very poor in species, differ much more from each other than any two forms of the group Polypodiaceæ which numbers its thousands of species.

If, from all this, it seems right to regard the Orthoptera as the order of Insects approaching most nearly to the common primitive form, we must also expect that their mode of development will agree better with that of the primitive form, than, for example, that of the Lepidoptera, in the same way that some of the Prawns (Penëus) approaching most closely the primitive form of the Decapoda, have most truly preserved their original mode of development. Now, the majority of the Orthoptera quit the egg in a form which is distinguished from that of the adult Insect almost solely by the want of wings; these larvæ then soon acquire rudiments of wings, which appear more strongly developed after every moult. Even this perfectly gradual transition from the youngest larva to the sexually mature Insect, preserves in a far higher degree the picture of an original mode of development, than does the so-called complete metamorphosis of the Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, or Diptera, with its abruptly separated larva-, pupa- and imago-states.

The most ancient Insects would probably have most resembled these wingless larvæ of the existing Orthoptera. The circumstance that there are still numerous wingless species among the Orthoptera, and that some of these (Blattidæ) are so like certain Crustacea (Isopods) in habit that both are indicated by the same name (``Baratta'') by the people in this country, can scarcely be regarded as of any importance.

The contrary supposition that the old Insects possessed a ``complete metamorphosis,'' and that the ``incomplete metamorphosis'' of the Orthoptera and Hemiptera is only of later origin, is met by serious difficulties. If all the classes of Arthropoda (Crustacea, Insecta, Myriopoda and Arachnida) are indeed all branches of a common stem (and of this there can scarcely be a doubt), it is evident that the water-inhabiting and water-breathing Crustacea must be regarded as the original stem from which the other terrestrial classes, with their tracheal respiration, have branched off. But nowhere among the Crustacea is there a mode of development comparable to the ``complete metamorphosis'' of the Insecta, nowhere among the young or adult Crustacea are there forms which might resemble the maggots of the Diptera or Hymenoptera, the larvæ of the Coleoptera, or the caterpillars of the Lepidoptera, still less any bearing even a distant resemblance to the quiescent pupæ of these animals. The pupæ, indeed, cannot at all be regarded as members of an original developmental series, the individual stages of which represent permanent ancestral states, for an animal like the mouthless and footless pupa of the Silkworm, enclosed by a thick cocoon, can never have formed the final, sexually mature state of an Arthropod.

In the development of the Insecta we never see new segments added to those already present in the youngest larvæ, but we do see segments which were distinct in the larva afterwards become fused together or disappear. Considering the parallelism which prevails throughout organic nature between palæontological and embryonic development, it is therefore improbable that the oldest Insects should have possessed fewer segments than some of their descendants. But the larvæ of the Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, &c., never have more than nine abdominal segments, it is therefore not probable that they represent the original young form of the oldest Insects, and that the Orthoptera, with an abdomen of eleven segments, should have been subsequently developed from them.

Taking into consideration on the one hand these difficulties, and on the other the arguments which indicate the Orthoptera as the order most nearly approaching the primitive form, it is my opinion that the ``incomplete metamorphosis'' of the Orthoptera is the primitive one, inherited from the original parents of all Insects, and the ``complete metamorphosis'' of the Coleoptera, Diptera, &c., a subsequently acquired one.

Translation

Itajahy, Sa. Catharina, Brazil,

17. June 1868.

&lldots; . You will already have seen from my last letter how very flattered I am that you think my ``Für Darwin'' worthy of an English translation. I sent you a few additions at that time; since you now say in the new edition of `Origin' that many naturalists probably would not go along with my opinion that the caterpillar and pupal states of insects have not been inherited from the ancestor of all insects but have been acquired subsequently, I therefore enclose today a short discussion of the subject &lldots; . With regard to the English title, I have no definite opinion; I think that Sir Ch. Lyell's suggestion ``Facts and arguments in favour of Darwin'' would suffice. Since all the facts are concerned with crustaceans, the book's contents might perhaps be even more exactly described by the title: ``Darwinism tested by carcinology'' or ``Carcinology as bearing on the origin of species''.

You have taken such great pains with the translation, quite apart from all the expenses, that if the book actually makes a profit, it seems only fair that you should keep it. I thus have to reject your kind offer of passing it on to me. I would be happy to receive two or three copies of the translation: one for me, one for my brother, and one for Mr. C. Spence Bate in Plymouth.

Many thanks for the Eschscholtzia seeds; some of those which I received in an earlier letter from you have already sprouted&lldots; .

I have also encountered a couple of plants where the conspicuous seeds are attached to the open fruits:

The fruit of a climbing Dilleniaceae with a woody stem opens up in a remarkable fashion: it forms two big wings which have a shiny scarlet red colour on the inside; each wing carries on its tip a black seed with a snowy white, fleshy, sweet but very pungent husk.

In a second shrubby plant (I don't know to what family it belongs) the (one or two) black seeds also have a white, fleshy, sweet and floury hull, whereas the valves are a brownish colour.

In the Maranta the pericarp falls off in one piece and the oddly bent seeds remain firmly embedded in a red pulp on the stalk.

The fruits of Bomarea (or a climbing Alstroemeria) sit on long stalks in a large umbel of more than 30 fruits. After the three valves have opened up each fruit forms a kind of small, charming basket filled with bright red seeds with thin fleshy husk. It is one of the most beautiful creations of the plant kingdom, and everyone to whom I have shown it has admired it.

In one of our Marantaceae the anthers open up long before the flower unfolds and the pollen is deposited on the pistil, just as in the case of Canna. Later a sterile stamen (or a floral leaf?) grows around the pistil and forms a sort of sheath with a narrow longitudinal fissure on the inner side. On one side this sheath has a spurlike process resembling the anther of Catasetum. When you touch this spurlike process and bend it sideways a little bit (and an insect wanting to insert its proboscis into the long tube of the flower could hardly avoid that), the sheath opens and bends backwards while the pistil bends forward with great force and strikes the opposite petal. In most flowers where I found the pistil in this position, all the pollen appeared to be present, but I cannot decide whether in these cases the pistil had jumped out of its sheath without a visit from an insect or whether a second visit is necessary for the pollen to be taken away; however I think the latter possibility quite unlikely. Hopefully I can observe the insects at work next summer. When I inserted a blade of grass into the flower tube, thereby causing the pistil to jump out of its sheath, only a few pollen grains attached themselves to the blade.

Concerning the anthers of Catasetum, it is noteworthy how late they develop. On my excursion I found a beautiful plant of a green flowering Catasetum with large buds; the flowers were easily recognisable as male but not a trace of the anthers to be found. When I returned to the same place after 4 weeks the plant was flowering and the small column had very long anthers.— 4 weeks will seem like quite a long time to you, but please remember that the development of the orchid flowers is very slow here in the winter.

Is it not strange that a genus of Compositae (viz. Wulffia), most of which have in their pappus such a wonderful contrivance for dissemination by the wind, have begun (probably relatively recently) to develop berries? In fact, the one species of Wulffia that I have seen grows in the virgin forest, and here the dissemination by birds would no doubt be preferable.

With cordial thanks for all your efforts occasioned by the translation of my work and for all your kindness, believe me, I am dear Sir, very respectfully yours | Fritz Müller

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 6248a.f1
    For a translation of this letter, see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix I. All Fritz Müller's letters to CD were written in English (see Möller ed. 1915--21, 2: 72 n.); most of them have not been found. Many of the letters were later sent by Francis Darwin to Möller, who translated them into German for his Fritz Müller: Werke, Briefe und Leben (Möller ed. 1915--21). Möller also found drafts of some Müller letters among Fritz Müller's papers and included these in their original English form (ibid., 2: 72 n.). Where the original English versions are missing, the published versions, usually appearing in German translation, have been used.
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    f2 6248a.f2
    See letter from Fritz Müller, 22 April 1868. Müller refers to F. Müller 1864; the translation was W. S. Dallas trans. 1869.
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    f3 6248a.f3
    The original enclosure has not been found. The transcription has been made from a footnote in W. S. Dallas trans. 1869, pp. 119--21. Müller refers to Origin 4th ed., pp. 530: Fritz Müller … goes so far as to believe that the progenitor of all insects probably resembled an adult insect, and that the caterpillar or maggot, and cocoon or pupal stages, have subsequently been acquired; but from this view many natualists, for instance Sir J. Lubbock, who has likewise recently discussed this subject, would, it is probable, dissent.
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    f4 6248a.f4
    See letter to Fritz Müller, 16 March [1868]. Müller refers to Charles Lyell.
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    f5 6248a.f5
    See letter to Fritz Müller, 16 March [1868]. Müller refers to Hermann Müller and to Charles Spence Bate.
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    f6 6248a.f6
    See letter to Fritz Müller, 3 April [1868]. CD also sent a batch of seeds with his letter to Müller of 30 January [1868].
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    f7 6248a.f7
    For CD and Müller's earlier discussions of conspicuous seeds, see Correspondence vols. 14 and 15.
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    f8 6248a.f8
    Bomarea is a genus of the family Alstroemeriaceae.
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    f9 6248a.f9
    In older taxonomic systems, the genus Canna belonged to the family Marantaceae (Lindley 1853, p. 169); it now belongs to the related family Cannaceae. CD had discussed the similarities of Canna and some orchids in pollen deposition in Orchids, pp. 323--4. CD discussed the rostellum of Catasetum in Orchids, p. 322.
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    f10 6248a.f10
    The genus Wulffia now belongs to the family Asteraceae.
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    f11 6248a.f11
    See n. 3, above.
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    f12 6248a.f12
    Pseudoneuroptera: `an order of insects in some classifications, resembling the Neuroptera but with incomplete metamorphosis' (OED). In incomplete metamorphosis, the pupa is active and the three stages (larva, pupa, and imago) are not very different except for the absence of wings in the larva: however, some members of this group, for example dragonflies, do have rather different larval and adult stages because the larva is aquatic (see Nicholson 1880, pp. 341--2). Ephemera: the mayfly genus, now in the order Ephemeroptera. Libellula: a genus of dragonflies (dragonflies are now in the suborder Anisoptera of the order Odonata). Ephemeroptera and Odonata are in the infraclass Palaeoptera. The order Orthoptera is now restricted to crickets, grasshoppers, katydids, and locusts and belongs to the infraclass Neoptera. The modern order Neuroptera (lacewings, mantispids, etc.) is within the infraclass Neoptera, and is much smaller than the Linnean order Neuroptera. On modern and nineteenth-century systems of insect classification, see Gillot 1980, pp. 29, 92--7.
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    f13 6248a.f13
    Müller refers to Adolph Gerstaecker, and to Gerstaecker 1863, p. 37.
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    f14 6248a.f14
    Gerstaecker 1863, p. 37.
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    f15 6248a.f15
    The figure and page references are to W. S. Dallas trans. 1869.
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    f16 6248a.f16
    Podophthalma: Crustacea with eyes set on movable foot-stalks, including crabs and lobsters; Edriophthalma: sessile-eyed Crustacea, including prawns and shrimps (OED).
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    f17 6248a.f17
    Gerstaecker 1863, p. 37.
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    f18 6248a.f18
    Gerstaecker 1863, pp. 39--40.
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    f19 6248a.f19
    Termes: termites. Blatta: a genus of cockroaches. Forficula: earwigs.
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    f20 6248a.f20
    Penëus: i.e. Penaeus (tiger prawns). The family Penaeidae is in the order Decapoda.
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    f21 6248a.f21
    Blattidae: the cockroach family. In modern terminology, the Blattidae are American cockroaches only; all cockroaches fall under the suborder Blattaria.
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    f22 6248a.f22
    This country: i.e. Brazil.
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