To J. D. Hooker 14 March 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker
Thanks for your letter:2 I agree with much of what you say about the amiable reciprocal feelings of nations; but Emma agrees with your last sentence that you wrote in a Mephistophelerian spirit. I think you are a bit too hard on Asa Gray; but he evidently tried to be as severe as he civilly could. I knew he was quite wrong about your indifference.—3
Thanks, also, for Photograph, which about a fortnight ago we were wishing for; but it does not give your expression & so by no means does you justice.—4
What a capital letter of Bates’:5 he is evidently a true thinker; it has made me very curious to see your letter; if it contains nothing personal relating to Bates or yourself, might I see it? If so, & you are writing, would you ask him to send it; or I would write; but I thought he might feel scruples without your permission in sending it.6
The point which you have been discussing is most difficult: I always come, after doubt, to your side. There is one pretty clear line of distinction;— when many parts of structure as in woodpecker show distinct adaptation to external bodies, it is preposterous to attribute them to effect of climate &c—but when a single point, alone, as a hooked seed, it is conceivable that it may thus have arisen. I have found the study of orchids eminently useful in showing me how nearly all parts of the flower are coadapted for fertilisation by insects, & therefore the result of n. selection,—even most trifling details of structure. I have just, by the way, been studying Mormodes ignea—; it is a prodigy of adaptation; but I had to examine 12 flowers in all sorts of ways, before I made out its mechanism.7
I should like to read Oliver’s paper, but I am so hard-worked with proofs &c, that I must give it up, till it appears in print.—8
It is real good news that you will try & come here in Easter;9 Emma desires to join me in hoping that Mrs. Hooker10 will come also; I fear we cannot take in your children, as all our Boys, & perhaps others, will be at home.
I am pleased to hear that you like Lubbock & Mrs. L.; he is a real good fellow & she is a charmer.—11
Farewell, my dear old fellow | Yours affectly.— | C. Darwin
Wallace will be home in a month or two.—12
Do not forget Lythrum, Saxifrages &c. Avoid Saxifrages with flexuous or woolly hair; but choose a plant with longest straight hairs.13
Thinks JDH is a bit hard on Asa Gray.
Bates’s letter is that of a true thinker. Asks to see JDH’s to Bates. Point raised in it is most difficult. "There is one clear line of distinction; – when many parts of structure as in woodpecker show distinct adaptation to external bodies, it is preposterous to attribute them to effect of climate etc. – but when a single point, alone, as a hooked seed, it is conceivable that it may thus have arisen." His study of orchids shows nearly all parts of the flower co-adapted for fertilisation by insects and therefore the result of natural selection. Mormodes ignea "is a prodigy of adaptation".
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3472,” accessed on 17 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3472