To J. D. Hooker 24 [November 1862]
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker.
I have just received enclosed for you,1 & 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.—2 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.3 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);4 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.—5 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.—6
What a pleasant letter your last was.— When shall you begin your great work “The Aristocracy”! By the Lord how it would sell!7 I noted your opening sentence in Review of Orchids on my second reading, as laughably like Lindley.—8 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:9 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!10 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;11 he pays me an extraordinary compliment, but what is far better, I think I see he is slowly coming round about permanence of species—12 In some M.S. of his, which I have seen, this is pretty clear; but he does not like N. Selection.13 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.14 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.—15 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.16 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.17 Mr Busk18 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.19 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.20 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.21 My book is getting on I have had 6 sheets of proof down already.22
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;23 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).24 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.—25
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.
- climate and conditions
- constant varieties, races
- information, data, scientific description
- positive attitude/assessment
- reception of Darwinism
- species, speciation
- theory (including philosophy)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3822,” accessed on 30 September 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3822