To J. D. Hooker 15 and 22 May 
Down Bromley Kent.
My dear Hooker
Your letter received this morning interested me more than even most of your letters;1 & that is saying a good deal.—
I must scribble a little on several points. About Lyell & Species you put the whole case, I do believe, when you say that he is “half-hearted & whole-headed”.2 I wrote to A. Gray that when I saw such man as Lyell & he refuse to judge, it put me in despair; & that I sometimes thought I shd. prefer that Lyell had judged against modification of species, rather than profess inability to decide;3 & I left him to apply this to himself.— I am heartily rejoiced to hear that you intend to try to bring L. & F. together again: but had you not better wait till they are a little cooled? you will do science a real good service. Falconer never forgave Lyell for taking the Purbeck bones from him & handing them over to Owen.—4
I was so glad to see the curious & most beautiful Clianthus (you beggar to make a man’s wife & daughter laugh outrageously at him with your “wriggles”):5 if you shd. look at flower again, I think from analogy & from what I saw of the packing of the pollen, that you will find that hairy pistil grows & brushes masses of pollen to apex of keel, & the insects, whilst sucking move the keel up & down & force pollen & stigma on to hairy abdomen: by thus gently working I brushed all the pollen out of keel by its apex.—
With respect to Island Floras, if I understand rightly, we differ almost solely how plants first got there:6 I suppose that at long intervals, from as far back as later Tertiary periods, to the present time plants occasionally arrived (in some cases perhaps aided by different current from existing currents & by former islands) & that the old arrivals have survived little modified on the islands, but have been greatly modified or become extinct on the continents. If I understand, you believe that all islands were formerly united to continents & then received all their plants & none since; & that on the islands they have undergone less extinction & modification than on the continents.— The number of animal-forms on islands very closely allied to those on continents, with a few extremely distinct & anomalous, does not seem to me well to harmonise with your supposed view of all having formerly arrived or rather having been left together on the island.—
May 22d. I have been very bad & chiefly confined to bed;7 but will amuse myself by writing a little more to you. With respect to Bates & Wallace having distinct views on species during their Journey; what does astonish me is the extreme poverty of observation on this head in Wallace’s book; with one discussion on very dissimilar Birds feeding alike showing, as it seemed to me, complete misunderstanding of the economy of nature.8
Will you ask Oliver for reference, if he can, to Nageli on relation of vessels & leaves;9 it is just the point I was driven to.— I failed hopelessly; but found to my surprise that leaves arranged at angles, which do not naturally occur, stand in as perfect symmetry with other leaves (viz at intersection of the two diagonals of a rhomb, formed by joining the two two leaves above & two below) as do the leaves placed at the real angles from each other.10 There is some curious law to be made out about these angles which all go on convergng to an imaginary angle.—
You have given excellent counsel to Bates & I hope he will follow it; what an old malignant fool Dr Grey is; but I never care an atom for his malignacy; it never makes me angry, & I believe your explanation is right; one gets used to it.11
Have you seen the Anthropological Review: there are some clever articles; with a fierce attack on Huxley.—12
Please remember & tell me name of Hot-House plant (& if possible send flower of) with two coloured anthers.—13
All my work is at wretched standstill, with everlasting sickness & devilish headachs—
Goodnight | My dear old friend. | C. Darwin
The more I think of the “Sad Case” the cleverer it seems.—14 Where is Huxley: is he alive? I sometimes think that my days of scientific work are very rapidly drawing to a close.— Goodnight dear old friend.—
The Lyell–Falconer squabble.
Discusses island vs continental floras and their degree of modification.
Critical of Wallace.
CD’s observations on phyllotaxy.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4167,” accessed on 24 May 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4167