To J. D. Hooker 13 [July 1858]
Miss Wedgwoods | Hartfield | Tunbridge Wells1
My dear Hooker
Your letter to Wallace seems to me perfect, quite clear & most courteous. I do not think it could possibly be improved & I have today forwarded it with a letter of my own.—2
I always thought it very possible that I might be forestalled, but I fancied that I had grand enough soul not to care; but I found myself mistaken & punished; I had, however, quite resigned myself & had written half a letter to Wallace to give up all priority to him & shd certainly not have changed had it not been for Lyell’s & yours quite extraordinary kindness. I assure you I feel it, & shall not forget it.
I am much more than satisfied at what took place at Linn. Socy— I had thought that your letter & mine to Asa Gray were to be only an appendix to Wallace’s paper.—3
We go from here in few days to sea-side, probably Isle of Wight4 & on my return (after a battle with Pigeon skeletons) I will set to work at abstract, though how on earth I shall make anything of an abstract in 30 pages of Journal I know not, but will try my best.5 I shall order Bentham:6 is it not a pity that you shd waste time in tabulating vars; for I can get the Down schoolmaster to do it on my return & can tell you all results.7
I must try & see you before your journey; but do not think that I am fishing to ask you come to Down., for you will have no time for that.
You cannot imagine how pleased I am that the notion of Natural Selection has acted as a purgative on your bowels of immutability. Whenever naturalists can look at species changing as certain, what a magnificent field will be open,—on all the laws of variation,—on the genealogy of all living beings,—on their lines of migration &c &c.
Pray thank Mrs Hooker for her very kind little note, & pray say how truly obliged I am, & in truth ashamed to think, that she shd have had the trouble of copying my ugly M.S.8 It was extraordinaryly kind in her.—
Farewell my dear kind friend— Yours affectly | C. Darwin
I have had some fun here in watching a slave-making ant, for I could not help rather doubting the wonderful stories, but I have now seen a defeated marauding party, & I have seen a migration from one nest to another of the slave-makers, carrying their slaves (who are house & not field niggers) in their mouths!9
I am inclined to think that it is a true generalisation that when honey is secreted at one point of circle of corolla, if the pistil bends it always bends into line of gangway to the honey.— the Larkspur is good instance in contrast to Columbine.— if you think of it, just attend to this little point.—10
JDH’s letter to Wallace perfect. CD’s feelings about priority. Without Lyell’s and JDH’s intervention CD would have given up all claims to Wallace. Now planning 30-page abstract for a journal.
Observations on floral structure
and slave-making ants.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2306,” accessed on 25 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2306