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- More Letters of Charles Darwin Volume II - 2/133 -

when going to make trials on this subject, and have never resumed it.

We shall be in London in the middle of latter part of November, when I shall much enjoy seeing you. Emma sends her love, and many thanks for Lady Lyell's note.

LETTER 382. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, Wednesday [1867].

I daresay there is a great deal of truth in your remarks on the glacial affair, but we are in a muddle, and shall never agree. I am bigoted to the last inch, and will not yield. I cannot think how you can attach so much weight to the physicists, seeing how Hopkins, Hennessey, Haughton, and Thomson have enormously disagreed about the rate of cooling of the crust; remembering Herschel's speculations about cold space (382/1. The reader will find some account of Herschel's views in Lyell's "Principles," 1872, Edition XI., Volume I., page 283.), and bearing in mind all the recent speculations on change of axis, I will maintain to the death that your case of Fernando Po and Abyssinia is worth ten times more than the belief of a dozen physicists. (382/2. See "Origin," Edition VI., page 337: "Dr. Hooker has also lately shown that several of the plants living on the upper parts of the lofty island of Fernando Po and on the neighbouring Cameroon mountains, in the Gulf of Guinea, are closely related to those in the mountains of Abyssinia, and likewise to those of temperate Europe." Darwin evidently means that such facts as these are better evidence of the gigantic periods of time occupied by evolutionary changes than the discordant conclusions of the physicists. See "Linn. Soc. Journ." Volume VII., page 180, for Hooker's general conclusions; also Hooker and Ball's "Marocco," Appendix F, page 421. For the case of Fernando Po see Hooker ("Linn. Soc. Journ." VI., 1861, page 3, where he sums up: "Hence the result of comparing Clarence Peak flora [Fernando Po] with that of the African continent is--(1) the intimate relationship with Abyssinia, of whose flora it is a member, and from which it is separated by 1800 miles of absolutely unexplored country; (2) the curious relationship with the East African islands, which are still farther off; (3) the almost total dissimilarity from the Cape flora." For Sir J.D. Hooker's general conclusions on the Cameroon plants see "Linn. Soc. Journ." VII., page 180. More recently equally striking cases have come to light: for instance, the existence of a Mediterranean genus, Adenocarpus, in the Cameroons and on Kilima Njaro, and nowhere else in Africa; and the probable migration of South African forms along the highlands from the Natal District to Abysinnia. See Hooker, "Linn. Soc. Journ." XIV., 1874, pages 144-5.) Your remarks on my regarding temperate plants and disregarding the tropical plants made me at first uncomfortable, but I soon recovered. You say that all botanists would agree that many tropical plants could not withstand a somewhat cooler climate. But I have come not to care at all for general beliefs without the special facts. I have suffered too often from this: thus I found in every book the general statement that a host of flowers were fertilised in the bud, that seeds could not withstand salt water, etc., etc. I would far more trust such graphic accounts as that by you of the mixed vegetation on the Himalayas and other such accounts. And with respect to tropical plants withstanding the slowly coming on cool period, I trust to such facts as yours (and others) about seeds of the same species from mountains and plains having acquired a slightly different climatal constitution. I know all that I have said will excite in you savage contempt towards me. Do not answer this rigmarole, but attack me to your heart's content, and to that of mine, whenever you can come here, and may it be soon.


(383/1. The following extract from a letter of Sir J.D. Hooker shows the tables reversed between the correspondents.)

Grove is disgusted at your being disquieted about W. Thomson. Tell George from me not to sit upon you with his mathematics. When I threatened your tropical cooling views with the facts of the physicists, you snubbed me and the facts sweetly, over and over again; and now, because a scarecrow of x+y has been raised on the selfsame facts, you boo-boo. Take another dose of Huxley's penultimate G. S. Address, and send George back to college. (383/2. Huxley's Anniversary Address to the Geological Society, 1869 ("Collected Essays," VIII., page 305). This is a criticism of Lord Kelvin's paper "On Geological Time" ("Trans. Geolog. Soc. Glasgow," III.). At page 336 Mr. Huxley deals with Lord Kelvin's "third line of argument, based on the temperature of the interior of the earth." This was no doubt the point most disturbing to Mr. Darwin, since it led Lord Kelvin to ask (as quoted by Huxley), "Are modern geologists prepared to say that all life was killed off the earth 50,000, 100,000, or 200,000 years ago?" Mr. Huxley, after criticising Lord Kelvin's data and conclusion, gives his conviction that the case against Geology has broken down. With regard to evolution, Huxley (page 328) ingeniously points out a case of circular reasoning. "But it may be said that it is biology, and not geology, which asks for so much time--that the succession of life demands vast intervals; but this appears to me to be reasoning in a circle. Biology takes her time from geology. The only reason we have for believing in the slow rate of the change in living forms is the fact that they persist through a series of deposits which, geology informs us, have taken a long while to make. If the geological clock is wrong, all the naturalist will have to do is to modify his notions of the rapidity of change accordingly.")

LETTER 384. TO J.D. HOOKER. February 3rd [1868].

I am now reading Miquel on "Flora of Japan" (384/1. Miquel, "Flore du Japon": "Archives Neerlandaises" ii., 1867.), and like it: it is rather a relief to me (though, of course, not new to you) to find so very much in common with Asia. I wonder if A. Murray's (384/2. "Geographical Distribution of Mammals," by Andrew Murray, 1866. See Chapter V., page 47. See Letter 379.) notion can be correct, that a [profound] arm of the sea penetrated the west coast of N. America, and prevented the Asiatico-Japan element colonising that side of the continent so much as the eastern side; or will climate suffice? I shall to the day of my death keep up my full interest in Geographical Distribution, but I doubt whether I shall ever have strength to come in any fuller detail than in the "Origin" to this grand subject. In fact, I do not suppose any man could master so comprehensive a subject as it now has become, if all kingdoms of nature are included. I have read Murray's book, and am disappointed--though, as you said, here and there clever thoughts occur. How strange it is, that his view not affording the least explanation of the innumerable adaptations everywhere to be seen apparently does not in the least trouble his mind. One of the most curious cases which he adduces seems to me to be the two allied fresh-water, highly peculiar porpoises in the Ganges and Indus; and the more distantly allied form of the Amazons. Do you remember his explanation of an arm of the sea becoming cut off, like the Caspian, converted into fresh-water, and then divided into two lakes (by upheaval), giving rise to two great rivers. But no light is thus thrown on the affinity of the Amazon form. I now find from Flower's paper (384/3. "Zoolog. Trans." VI., 1869, page 115. The toothed whales are divided into the Physeteridae, the Delphinidae, and the Platanistidae, which latter is placed between the two other families, and is divided into the sub-families Iniinae and Platanistinae.) that these fresh-water porpoises form two sub- families, making an extremely isolated and intermediate, very small family. Hence to us they are clearly remnants of a large group; and I cannot doubt we here have a good instance precisely like that of ganoid fishes, of a large ancient marine group, preserved exclusively in fresh-water, where there has been less competition, and consequently little modification. (384/4. See Volume I., Letter 95.) What a grand fact that is which Miquel gives of the beech not extending beyond the Caucasus, and then reappearing in Japan, like your Himalayan Pinus, and the cedar of Lebanon. (384/5. For Pinus read Deodar. The essential identity of the deodar and the cedar of Lebanon was pointed out in Hooker's "Himalayan Journals" in 1854 (Volume I., page 257.n). In the "Nat. History Review," January, 1862, the question is more fully dealt with by him, and the distribution discussed. The nearest point at which cedars occur is the Bulgar-dagh chain of Taurus--250 miles from Lebanon. Under the name of Cedrus atlantica the tree occurs in mass on the borders of Tunis, and as Deodar it first appears to the east in the cedar forests of Afghanistan. Sir J.D. Hooker supposes that, during a period of greater cold, the cedars on the Taurus and on Lebanon lived many thousand feet nearer the sea-level, and spread much farther to the east, meeting similar belts of trees descending and spreading westward from Afghanistan along the Persian mountains.) I know of nothing that gives one such an idea of the recent mutations in the surface of the land as these living "outlyers." In the geological sense we must, I suppose, admit that every yard of land has been successively covered with a beech forest between the Caucasus and Japan!

I have not yet seen (for I have not sent to the station) Falconer's works. When you say that you sigh to think how poor your reprinted memoirs would appear, on my soul I should like to shake you till your bones rattled for talking such nonsense. Do you sigh over the "Insular Floras," the Introduction to New Zealand Flora, to Australia, your Arctic Flora, and dear Galapagos, etc., etc., etc.? In imagination I am grinding my teeth and choking you till I put sense into you. Farewell. I have amused myself by writing an audaciously long letter. By the way, we heard yesterday that George has won the second Smith's Prize, which I am excessively glad of, as the Second Wrangler by no means always succeeds. The examination consists exclusively of [the] most difficult subjects, which such men as Stokes, Cayley, and Adams can set.


...While writing a few pages on the northern alpine forms of plants on the Java mountains I wanted a few cases to refer to like Teneriffe, where there are no northern forms and scarcely any alpine. I expected the volcanoes of Hawaii would be a good case, and asked Dr. Seemann about them. It seems a man has lately published a list of Hawaiian plants, and the mountains swarm with European alpine genera and some species! (385/1. "This turns out to be inaccurate, or greatly exaggerated. There are no true alpines, and the European genera are comparatively few. See my 'Island Life,' page 323."-- A.R.W.) Is not this most extraordinary, and a puzzler? They are, I believe, truly oceanic islands, in the absence of mammals and the extreme poverty of birds and insects, and they are within the Tropics.

Will not that be a hard nut for you when you come to treat in detail on geographical distribution? I enclose Seemann's note, which please return when you have copied the list, if of any use to you.

LETTER 386. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, February 21st [1870].

I read yesterday the notes on Round Island (386/1. In Wallace's "Island Life," page 410, Round Island is described as an islet "only about a mile across, and situated about fourteen miles north-east of Mauritius." Wallace mentions a snake, a python belonging to the peculiar and distinct genus Casarea, as found on Round Island, and nowhere else in the world. The palm Latania Loddigesii is quoted by Wallace as "confined to Round Island and two other adjacent islets." See Baker's "Flora of the Mauritius and the Seychelles." Mr. Wallace says that, judging from the soundings, Round Island was connected with Mauritius, and that when it was "first separated [it] would have been both much larger and much nearer the main island.") which I owe to you. Was there ever such an enigma? If, in the course of a week or two, you can find time to let me hear what you think, I should very much like to hear: or we hope to be at Erasmus' on March 4th for a week. Would there be any chance of your coming to luncheon then?

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