To J. D. Hooker 10 May 1848
Down Farnborough Kent
My dear Hooker
I was indeed delighted to see your hand-writing; but I felt almost sorry when I beheld how long a letter you had written:1 I know that you are indomitable in work, but remember how precious your time is & do not waste it on your friends, however much pleasure you may give them. Such a letter would have cost me half a day’s work. How capitally you seem going on: I do envy you the sight of all the glorious vegetation. I am much pleased & surprised that you have been able to observe so much in the animal world. No doubt you keep a Journal, & an excellent one it will be, I am sure, when published.2 All these animal facts will tell capitally in it. I can quite comprehend the difficulty, you mention, about not knowing what is known zoologically in India: but facts observed, as you will observe them, are none the worse for reiterating.
Did you see Mr Blyth3 in Calcutta; he would be a capital man to tell you what is known about Indian zoology, at least in the Vertebrata: he is a very clever, odd, wild fellow, who will never do, what he could do, from not sticking to any one subject. By the way, if you should see him at any time, try not to forget to to remember me very kindly to him: I liked all I saw of him.—
Your letter was the very one to charm me, with all its facts for my species-Book, & truly obliged, I am, for so kind a remembrance of me. Do not forget to make enquiries about origin, even if only traditionally known of any vars. of domestic quadrupeds, birds, silkworms &c.— (Are there domestic Bees? if so hive ought to brough home.)
Of all the facts you mention, that of the wild Bhil, when breeding with the domestic, producing offspring, somewhat sterile, is the most surprising; surely they must be different species. Most zoologists would absolutely disbelieve such a statement & consider the result as a proof that they were distinct species: I do not go so far as that, but the case seems highly improbable: Blyth has studied the Indian Ruminantia.—
I have been much struck about what you say of lowland plants asending mountains, but the Alpine not descending. How I do hope you will get up some mountains in Borneo; how curious the result will be. By the way I never heard from you, what affinity the Maldiva flora has, which is cruel, as you tempted me by making me guess.4 I sometimes groan over your Indian Journey, when I think over all your locked up riches: when shall I see a memoir on insular Floras, & on the Pacific.5 What a grand subject, Alpine Floras of the world would be, as far as known: and then you have never given a coup d’œil on the similarity & dissimilarity of Arctic & Antarctic floras. Well thank Heavens, when you do come back, you will be nolens-volens a fixture.— I am particularly glad you have been at the Coal: I have often since you went gone on maundering on the subject,6 & I shall never rest easy in Down church-yard, without the problem be solved by someone before I die.
Talking of dying makes me tell you that my confounded stomach is much the same; indeed of late has been rather worse, but for the last year, I think, I have been able to do more work. I have done nothing besides the Barnacles, except indeed a little theoretical paper on Erratic Boulders, & Scientific Geological Instructions for the Admiralty Volume,7 which cost me some trouble. This work, which is edited by Sir J. Herschel is a very good job, in as much as, the Captains of Men of War, will now see that the Admiralty care for science & so will favour naturalists on board. As for a man, who is not scientific by nature, I do not believe Instructions will do him any good; & if he be scientific & good for anything the Instructions will be superfluous: I do not know who does the Botany;8 Owen does the zoology & I have sent him an account of my new simple microscope, which I consider perfect, even better than your’s of Chevalier’s.9 N.B. I have got a 18 object glass, & it is grand.— I have been getting on well with my beloved cirripedia, & got more skilful in dissection: I have worked out the nervous system pretty well in several genera, & made out their ears & nostrils,10 which were quite unknown. I have lately got a bisexual cirripede, the male being microscopically small & parasitic within the sack of the female;11 I tell you this to boast of my species theory, for the nearest & closely allied genus to it is, as usual, hermaphrodite, but I had observed some minute parasites adhering to it, & these parasites, I now can show, are supplemental males, the male organs in the hermaphrodite being unusually small, though perfect & containing zoosperms: so we have almost a polygamous animal, simple females alone being wanting.12 I never shd. have made this out, had not my species theory convinced me, that an hermaphrodite species must pass into a bisexual species by insensibly small stages, & here we have it, for the male organs in the hermaphrodite are beginning to fail, & independent males ready formed. But I can hardly explain what I mean, & you will perhaps wish my Barnacles & Species theory al Diabolo together. But I don’t care what you say, my species theory is all gospel.—
We have had only one party here viz of the Lyells, Forbes, Owen & Ramsay, & we both missed you & Falconer very much.13 I do not much think we shall have another for my poor dear wife will be employed in July in bringing into the world, under the influence of Chloriform, a sixth little (d) as Henslow calls my children.14 I know more of your history than you will suppose, for Miss Henslow most goodnaturedly sent me a packet of your letters, & she wrote me so nice a little note that it made me quite proud.—
I have not heard of anything in the scientific line which wd. interest you. Sir. H. Delabeche gave a very long & rather dull address:15 the most interesting part was from Sir J. Ross.16 Mr Beete Jukes figured in it very prominently; it really is a very nice quality in Sir Henry, the manner in which he pushes forward his subordinates.17 Jukes has since read, what was considered a very valuable paper:18 the man not content with moustaches, now sports an entire beard, & I am sure thinks himself like Jupiter tonans. There was a short time since, a not very creditable discussion at meeting of Royal Soc. where Owen fell foul of Mantell with fury & contempt about Belemnites.19 What wretched doings come from the ardor of fame; the love of truth alone would never make one man attack another bitterly.
My paper is full, so I must wish you with all my heart farewell. Heaven grant that your health may keep good: I sincerely grieve that your chest yet troubles you: pray do not work too hard, my dear Hooker, Your affectionate friend | C. Darwin.—
Confident of species theory as result of applying it to cirripede sexual systems.
CD’s opinion of E. Blyth. JDH should meet Blyth, inquire about domesticated varieties, study insular flora, solve coal-plant problem.