To Hugh Falconer 5 [and 6] January 1
My dear Falconer
I finished your Elephant paper last night2 and you must let me express my admiration at it. All the points strike me as admirably worked out, and very many most interesting. I was particularly struck with your remarks on the character of the ancient Mammalian Fauna of N. America; it agrees with all I fancied was the case, namely a temporary irruption of S. American forms into N. America, and conversely.3 I chuckled a little over the specimen of M. Andium “hesitating” between the two groups.4 I have been assured by Mr. Wallace that abundant Mastodon remains have been found at Timor, and that is rather close to Australia:5 I rejoice that you have smashed that case.6 It is indeed a grand paper. I will say nothing more about your allusions to me, except that they have pleased me quite as much in print as in M.S.7 You must have worked very hard; the labour must have been extreme, but I do hope that you will have health and strength to go on. You would laugh, if you could have seen how indignant all Owen’s lies and mean conduct about E. Columbi made me.8 I did not get to sleep till past 3 o’clock. How well you lash him; firmly and severely with unruffled temper, as if you were performing a simple duty.9 The case is come to such a pass, that I think every man of science is bound to show his feelings by some overt act, and I shall watch for a fitting opportunity.
Ever my dear Falconer | Yours most truly | Ch. Darwin
P.S. I have kept back for a day the enclosed owing to the arrival of your most interesting letter.10 I knew it was a mere chance whether you could inform on points required; but no one other person has so often responded to my miscellaneous queries.11 I believe I have now in my greenhouse L. trigynum, which came up from seed purchased as L. flavum, from which it is wholly different in foliage.12 I have just sent in paper on Dimorphism of Linum to the Linn. Soc.13 and so I do not doubt your memory is right about L. trigynum:14 the functional difference in the two forms of Linum is really wonderful. I assure you I quite long to see you and a few others in London: it is not so much the eczema which has taken off the epidermis a dozen times clean off; but I have been knocked up of late with extraordinary facility and when I shall be able to come up I know not.15 I particularly wish to hear about the wondrous Bird;16 the case has delighted me, because no group is so isolated as Birds. I much wish to hear when we meet which digits are developed; when examining birds two or three years ago, I distinctly remember writing to Lyell that some day a fossil bird would be found with end of wing cloven, i.e. the bastard wing and other part both well developed.17 Thanks for Von Martius returned by this post, which I was glad to see.18 Poor old Wagner always attacked me in a proper spirit and sent me two or three little brochures, and I thanked him cordially.19 The Germans seem much stirred up on the subject. I received by the same post almost a little volume on the Origin.20
I cannot work above a couple of hours daily and this plays the deuce with me.
Farewell my good old friend | C. D.
I put in another query, on remotest possibility of information; if I do not hear I shall understand you have none.21
P.S. 2nd. I have worked like a slave and been baffled like a slave in trying to make out the meaning of two very different sets of stamens in some Melastomaceae.22 I must tell you one fact. I counted 9000 seeds, one by one, from my artificially fertilised pods. There is something very odd but I am as yet beaten. Plants from two pollens grow at different rates!23 Now what I want to know is, whether in individuals of the same species, growing together, you have ever noticed any difference in the position of the pistil or in the size and colour of the stamens?
His admiration for HF’s paper on American fossil elephant.
Notes "temporary irruption of S. American forms into N. America".
Rejoices that HF has "smashed" case of Mastodon on Timor.
Shares HF’s anger at Owen.
He is eager to hear about fossil bird [Archaeopteryx].
Comments on criticisms of species theory by [Johann Andreas?] Wagner.
Describes research on fertilisation of Melastomataceae.
- experiment, scientific observation
- fertilisation and generation
- geographical distribution
- information, data, scientific description
- isolation, islands
- negative attitude/assessment
- negative criticism of correspondent
- positive attitude/assessment
- reception of Darwinism
- scientific controversy, confrontation
- species, speciation
- theory (including philosophy)
- time, ‘inorganic’ (geological, historical)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3901,” accessed on 25 August 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3901