To J. D. Hooker 25 [and 26] January 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker.
Many thanks for your last Sunday’s letter, which was one of the pleasantest I ever received in my life.2 We are all pretty well redivivus, & I am at work again. I thought it best to make a clean breast to Asa Gray & told him that the Boston dinner &c &c had quite turned my stomach,—that I almost thought it would be good for peace of world if U. States were split up: on other hand I said that I groaned to think of the Slaveholders being triumphant, & that the difficulties of making a line of separation were fearful. I wonder what he will say: I shall never have love sent me again from Mrs. Gray.—3
Your notion of the aristocrats being ken-speckle,4 & the best men of a good lot being thus easily selected is new to me & striking.5 The Origin having made you, in fact, a jolly old Tory, made us all laugh heartily. I have sometimes speculated on this subject: primogeniture is dreadfully opposed to selection,—suppose the first-born Bull was necessarily made by each farmer the begetter of his stock! On other hand, as you say, ablest men are continually raised to peerage & get crossed with the older Lord-breeds—& the Lords continually select the most beautiful & charming women out of the lower ranks; so that a good deal of indirect selection improves the Lords. Certainly I agree with you, the present American row has a very toryfying influence on us all.—
I am very glad to hear you are beginning to print the “Genera”:6 it is a wonderful satisfaction to be thus brought to bed,—indeed it is one’s chief satisfaction, I think, though one knows that another bantling will soon be developing. I feel infinite satisfaction in knowing that in 2 or 3 weeks I shall be correcting press of my little orchid Book: whether this book is worth printing I have no more idea than the man in the moon—7
It is very true what you say about Huxley having no idea how little science is generally regarded;8 & he deceives himself in wonderful manner about writing down that beggar Owen.9 By the way Huxley tells me that Owen goes in for progressive development in 2d Edit. of his Palæontology, pooh-poohing natural selection.—10 Those Dutchmen in N. Hist. Review give Owen a good setting down.—11 I am quite ashamed how demoniacal my feelings are towards Owen.— I had the other day the feeblest letter from Balfour against Huxley’s conclusion on man & monkeys;12 & he says that H. was very cautious in affirming that they were codescendants.—
I have read your interesting paper on Cedars.—13 what a good case of doubtful species & of broken distribution.
With respect to Bates I repeated by letter the offer of assistance for any scientific requirement;14 & it would look presumptuous in me to say anything more; so he must apply if he wants aid.— I wish I could have seen the specimens which he exhibited at Linn. Socy.—15
I am so glad to hear that you can give me Lythrum:16 a little later in Spring, I will send list of my desiderata.17 A bad job poor old Mr. Borrer’s death.—18
Farewell | Ever yours affectly | C. Darwin
P.S.19 I shall be very glad indeed to see an Arethusa20 & then I must stop. I have just received such a Box full from Mr Bateman with the astounding Angræcum sesquipedalia with a nectary a foot long—21 Good Heavens what insect can suck it— I will write about Dimorphism.—22
His answer to Asa Gray.
On JDH’s view of aristocracy. Primogeniture is dreadfully opposed to selection.
Orchid book proofs ready soon – has no idea whether it is worth publishing.
Huxley on Owen.
Feeble letter from J. H. Balfour against Huxley’s lectures ["Relation of man to lower animals", pt 2 of Man’s place in nature (1863)].
Has received the "astounding" Angraecum sesquipedale with nectary 1ft long: "what insect could suck it?"
- negative attitude/assessment
- negative criticism of correspondent
- physical ‘external’ characters
- queries / requests
- social behaviour
- theory (including philosophy)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3411,” accessed on 12 February 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3411