To J. D. Hooker 22 and 28 [October 1865]
Sunday 22d & Saturday 28th.
(This letter is mere idle talk & you need not read till so inclined.) N.B.)
My dear Hooker
I hope you are established at Kew, & relieved of your stiff joints & not more overwhelmed with business than you might naturally expect—1 Mind I write to amuse myself & expect no answer beyond a line in a week or two’s time just to tell me how you are.— You wrote me a splendidly long & good letter just before you left Buxton.2 You speak with regret that the Royal Soc. never publickly honoured your Father; but do you not think that is accounted for by the fewness of the Botanists ever on the Council?3 I think it would aid in fairness of bestowal of medals; if the list of all that have received them were printed at end of List of Members, as is done by Geolog. Socy.—4 I have been wading through the Annals & Mag. of N. Hist. for last 10 years, & have been interested by several papers; chiefly, however, translations,; but none have interested me more than Carter’s on lower vegetables, infusoria & Protozoa.5 Is he is as good a workman as he appears? for if so he would deserve a Royal Medal.—6 I know it is not new; but how wonderful his account of the spermatozoa of some diœcious alga or conferva, swimming & finding the minute micropyle on a distinct plant & forcing its way in!7 Why, these zoospores must possess some sort of organ of sense to guide their locomotive powers to the small micropyle, & does not this necessarily imply something like a nervous system, in the same way as Complemental male cirripedes have organs of sense & locomotion & nothing else but a sack of spermatozoa?8
I fully agree with your remarks on Wallace’s remarks & on the man himself:9 I fear he will not do what he ought in science. As for the Anthropologists being a bête noir to scientific men, I am not suprised, for I have just skimmed through the last Anthro: Journal, & it shows, especially the long attack on Brit: Assoc: a curious spirit of insolence, conceit, dullness & vulgarity.10
I have read with uncommon interest Travers’ short paper on the Chatham I.s. I remember your pitching into me with terrible ferocity because I said I thought the seed of Edwardsia might have been floated from Chili to N. Zealand; now what do you say my young man to the three young trees of the same size on one spot alone of the Island & with the cast up pod on the shore?11 If it were not for those unlucky wingless birds, I cd believe that the group had been colonized by accidental means; but as it is, it appears by far to me the best evidence of continental extension ever observed; the distance I see is 360 miles. I wish I knew whether the sea was deeper than between N. Z. & Australia12 I fear you will not admit such a small accident as the wingless birds having been transported on ice-bergs. Do suggest, if you have a chance, to any one visiting the Islands again to look out for erratic boulders there.13 How curious his statement is about the fruit trees & bees! I wish I knew whether the clover had spread before the bees were introduced.—14
A newspaper has been sent me from N. Zealand with a savage anonymous attack on Haast for geological plagiarism;15 perhaps you have received or wd. not care to see it.— I saw in Gard. Chron. the sentence about the Origin dying in Germany, but did not know it was by Seeman.—16 I shd. not be surprised, if it were a bit of revenge; for he had the impudence to ask me for a Testimonial for some Professorship, which I felt compelled to refuse.—17 Talking of the Origin, a Yankee has called my attention to a paper attached to Dr Well’s famous Essay on Dew, which was read in 1813 to Royal Soc. but not printed, in which he applies most distinctly the principle of N. Selection to the races of man.—18 So poor old Patrick Matthew, is not the first, & he cannot or ought not any longer put on his Title pages “Discoverer of the principle of Natural Selection”!19
Do you know who wrote the article in July Quarterly on Bates, Wallace & you?20
You will like much better the 2d vol. of Palgrave:21 I hardly know why but I have liked the whole very much.— We are reading (but you will have no time now to read) Buckle, & like it extremely though we disagree with him every other page, & Emma incessantly gets into a rage with him.—22 As you do not like Silas Marner, I will not like much the Mill on the Floss;23 it is certainly most clever; but almost all the persons are odious, & there is no one so charming as Dolly.—24
You borrowed many months ago Max Wichura on Hybrid Willows: the book is of value to me, as being marked. so some time please see about it.—25
I heard only lately of the Subscription for FitzRoy & wrote to the Hon. Secretary to enquire purpose of subscription & was glad to hear it was money for his family.26 The Sec. told me that the 3000, granted by Government wd nearly all go to pay debts & his children were left penniless by his first marriage! Yet poor FitzRoy started with £20,000 as he told me. What a melancholy career he has run with all his splendid qualities.—
My health improves a little, but very slowly: I can, however, do no work & have great daily discomfort. God knows whether I shall ever do work again. On Nov. 7th we go for a week to 6 Queen Anne St to see Dr. B. Jones:27 if you are well enough, which I know is very doubtful & are in London, you must call & let me hear when.— I heard two days ago from Oliver a not very good account of you & that you wd. not return till Thursday.—28
My dear old friend | Yours affectionately | C. Darwin
Thinks Royal Society’s failure to honour W. J. Hooker may be due to small number of botanists on Council.
Interest in H. J. Carter’s papers in Annals and Magazine of Natural History on lower organisms.
On Wallace; anthropology.
H. H. Travers’ paper on Chatham Islands [J. Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. 9 (1865): 135–44].
W. C. Wells’s paper of 1813 ["Essay on dew", Two Essays (1818)] anticipates discovery of natural selection.