From J. D. Hooker [14 December 1862]1
I always like to see what A Gray says, though I must say it is sadly unsatisfactory to me.2 When writing to him the other day, I broke the Ice, in so far as to say, that I avoided alluding to the War, because I never knew any one to be right in his ideas or prognostications of a war in progress, & no belligerent ever knew what he was bringing about. Events alone can justify a war, motives may excuse, but never justify however good— the whole thing is as much an anomaly in civilization as duelling. Of course (I added) we both deplore it, but we are not children, & have something better to do than to hold pocket handkerchiefs to one anothers eyes across the Atlantic.
I read Max Muller, liked some parts, thought the last eminently unphilosophical, & concluded that it contained as little grist for your mill as could well be, considering how fertile the subject might be made3
Mann of W. Africa is sending you bees & honey comb as I requested.4
I will see to the Begonia &c toute de suite 5
Think again over your assumption of long-beaked pigeons being or not being in any degree sterile with short.6 They must be one or the other— there is no such thing as Equality.. it is inconceivable,—hence there is no such thing as Chance; & Nat. Seln. is the Sword of Damocles hanging over your own head, if you make a slip in your premisses
I have read, with delight, the note on Lythrum, you sent me some weeks ago—7 its consequences are of the most prolific order to your doctrine
I know nothing of Dutrochet & Cohns works, & am becoming a miserable ignoramus.—8 I once asked about John Scott for you & was told he was a very smart fellow—nothing more was known—or said.9
We have not wild Gooseberry nor do I know where to get it in this country, but will write to St Petersburgh— it is a Scandinavian plant.10
Ever yours affec— | J D Hooker
Dear Willy comes home on Thursday, he keeps at the very bottom of his school poor boy.11
On Asa Gray’s letter; has written why he avoids alluding to the war.
Has read Max Müller [see 3752] – last part unphilosophical.
On CD’s pigeon example, long-beaked and short-beaked pigeons must be either sterile or not inter se. There is "no such thing as Equality – hence no such thing as chance and Nat. Sel. is the sword of Damocles hanging over your head if you make a slip in your premisses."
Has read note on Lythrum sent several weeks ago. Its consequences are of most prolific order to CD’s doctrine.
Kew has no wild gooseberries.
JDH praises the Saturday Review reply [14 (1862): 589] to the Duke of Argyll’s bitter review of Orchids ["The supernatural", Edinburgh Rev. 116 (1862): 378–97].
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3846,” accessed on 26 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3846