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- More Letters of Charles Darwin Volume II - 30/133 -
of the [British] Association there. I do so hope that you may be there then.
LETTER 504. TO J.D. HOOKER. November 3rd .
When I wrote to you I had not read Ramsay. (504/1. "On the Erosion of Valleys and Lakes: a Reply to Sir Roderick Murchison's Anniversary Address to the Geographical Society." "Phil. Mag." Volume XXVIII., page 293, 1864) How capitally it is written! It seems that there is nothing for style like a man's dander being put up. I think I agree largely with you about denudation--but the rocky-lake-basin theory is the part which interests me at present. It seems impossible to know how much to attribute to ice, running water, and sea. I did not suppose that Ramsay would deny that mountains had been thrown up irregularly, and that the depressions would become valleys. The grandest valleys I ever saw were at Tahiti, and here I do not believe ice has done anything; anyhow there were no erratics. I said in my S. American Geology (504/2. "Finally, the conclusion at which I have arrived with respect to the relative powers of rain, and sea-water on the land is, that the latter is by far the most efficient agent, and that its chief tendency is to widen the valleys, whilst torrents and rivers tend to deepen them and to remove the wreck of the sea's destroying action" ("Geol. Observations," pages 66, 67).) that rivers deepen and the sea widens valleys, and I am inclined largely to stick to this, adding ice to water. I am sorry to hear that Tyndall has grown dogmatic. H. Wedgwood was saying the other day that T.'s writings and speaking gave him the idea of intense conceit. I hope it is not so, for he is a grand man of science.
...I have had a prospectus and letter from Andrew Murray (504/3. See Volume II., Letters 379, 384, etc.) asking me for suggestions. I think this almost shows he is not fit for the subject, as he gives me no idea what his book will be, excepting that the printed paper shows that all animals and all plants of all groups are to be treated of. Do you know anything of his knowledge?
In about a fortnight I shall have finished, except concluding chapter, my book on "Variation under Domestication"; (504/4. Published in 1868.) but then I have got to go over the whole again, and this will take me very many months. I am able to work about two hours daily.
LETTER 505. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down [July, 1865].
I was glad to read your article on Glaciers, etc., in Yorkshire. You seem to have been struck with what most deeply impressed me at Glen Roy (wrong as I was on the whole subject)--viz. the marvellous manner in which every detail of surface of land had been preserved for an enormous period. This makes me a little sceptical whether Ramsay, Jukes, etc., are not a little overdoing sub-aerial denudation.
In the same "Reader" (505/1. Sir J.D. Hooker wrote to Darwin, July 13th, 1865, from High Force Inn, Middleton, Teesdale: "I am studying the moraines all day long with as much enthusiasm as I am capable of after lying in bed till nine, eating heavy breakfasts, and looking forward to dinner as the summum bonum of existence." The result of his work, under the title "Moraines of the Tees Valley," appeared in the "Reader" (July 15th, 1865, page 71), of which Huxley was one of the managers or committee-men, and Norman Lockyer was scientific editor ("Life and Letters of T.H. Huxley," I., page 211). Hooker describes the moraines and other evidence of glacial action in the upper part of the Tees valley, and speaks of the effect of glaciers in determining the present physical features of the country.) there was a striking article on English and Foreign Men of Science (505/2. "British and Foreign Science," "The Reader," loc. cit., page 61. The writer of the article asserts the inferiority of English scientific workers.), and I think unjust to England except in pure Physiology; in biology Owen and R. Brown ought to save us, and in Geology we are most rich.
It is curious how we are reading the same books. We intend to read Lecky and certainly to re-read Buckle--which latter I admired greatly before. I am heartily glad you like Lubbock's book so much. It made me grieve his taking to politics, and though I grieve that he has lost his election, yet I suppose, now that he is once bitten, he will never give up politics, and science is done for. Many men can make fair M.P.'s; and how few can work in science like him!
I have been reading a pamphlet by Verlot on "Variation of Flowers," which seems to me very good; but I doubt whether it would be worth your reading. it was published originally in the "Journal d'Hort.," and so perhaps you have seen it. It is a very good plan this republishing separately for sake of foreigners buying, and I wish I had tried to get permission of Linn. Soc. for my Climbing paper, but it is now too late.
Do not forget that you have my paper on hybridism, by Max Wichura. (505/3. Wichura, M.E., "L'Hybridisation dans le regne vegetal etudiee sur les Saules," "Arch. Sci. Phys. Nat." XXIII., page 129, 1865.)
I hope you are returned to your work, refreshed like a giant by your huge breakfasts. How unlucky you are about contagious complaints with your children!
I keep very weak, and had much sickness yesterday, but am stronger this morning.
Can you remember how we ever first met? (505/4. See "Life and Letters," II., page 19.) It was in Park Street; but what brought us together? I have been re-reading a few old letters of yours, and my heart is very warm towards you.
LETTER 506. TO C. LYELL. Down, March 8th .
(506/1. In a letter from Sir Joseph Hooker to Mr. Darwin on February 21st, 1866, the following passage occurs: "I wish I could explain to you my crude notions as to the Glacial period and your position towards it. I suppose I hold this doctrine: that there was a Glacial period, but that it was not one of universal cold, because I think that the existing distribution of glaciers is sufficiently demonstrative of the proposition that by comparatively slight redispositions of sea and land, and perhaps axis of globe, you may account for all the leading palaeontological phenomena." This letter was sent by Mr. Darwin to Sir Charles Lyell, and the latter, writing on March 1st, 1866, expresses his belief that "the whole globe must at times have been superficially cooler. Still," he adds, "during extreme excentricity the sun would make great efforts to compensate in perihelion for the chill of a long winter in aphelion in one hemisphere, and a cool summer in the other. I think you will turn out to be right in regard to meridional lines of mountain-chains by which the migrations across the equator took place while there was contemporaneous tropical heat of certain lowlands, where plants requiring heat and moisture were saved from extinction by the heat of the earth's surface, which was stored up in perihelion, being prevented from radiating off freely into space by a blanket of aqueous vapour caused by the melting of ice and snow. But though I am inclined to profit by Croll's maximum excentricity for the glacial period, I consider it quite subordinate to geographical causes or the relative position of land and sea and the abnormal excess of land in polar regions." In another letter (March 5th, 1866) Lyell writes: "In the beginning of Hooker's letter to you he speaks hypothetically of a change in the earth's axis as having possibly co-operated with redistribution of land and sea in causing the cold of the Glacial period. Now, when we consider how extremely modern, zoologically and botanically, the Glacial period is proved to be, I am shocked at any one introducing, with what I may call so much levity, so organic a change as a deviation in the axis of the planet...' (see Lyell's "Principles," 1875, Chapter XIII.; also a letter to Sir Joseph Hooker printed in the "Life of Sir Charles Lyell," Volume II., page 410.))
Many thanks for your interesting letter. From the serene elevation of my old age I look down with amazement at your youth, vigour, and indomitable energy. With respect to Hooker and the axis of the earth, I suspect he is too much overworked to consider now any subject properly. His mind is so acute and critical that I always expect to hear a torrent of objections to anything proposed; but he is so candid that he often comes round in a year or two. I have never thought on the causes of the Glacial period, for I feel that the subject is beyond me; but though I hope you will own that I have generally been a good and docile pupil to you, yet I must confess that I cannot believe in change of land and water, being more than a subsidiary agent. (506/2. In Chapter XI. of the "Origin," Edition V., 1869, page 451, Darwin discusses Croll's theory, and is clearly inclined to trust in Croll's conclusion that "whenever the northern hemisphere passes through a cold period the temperature of the southern hemisphere is actually raised..." In Edition VI., page 336, he expresses his faith even more strongly. Mr. Darwin apparently sent his MS. on the climate question, which was no doubt prepared for a new edition of the "Origin," to Sir Charles. The arrival of the MS. is acknowledged in a letter from Lyell on March 10th, 1866 ("Life of Sir Charles Lyell," II., page 408), in which the writer says that he is "more than ever convinced that geographical changes...are the principal and not the subsidiary causes.") I have come to this conclusion from reflecting on the geographical distribution of the inhabitants of the sea on the opposite sides of our continents and of the inhabitants of the continents themselves.
LETTER 507. TO C. LYELL. Down, September 8th .
Many thanks for the pamphlet, which was returned this morning. I was very glad to read it, though chiefly as a psychological curiosity. I quite follow you in thinking Agassiz glacier-mad. (507/1. Agassiz's pamphlet, ("Geology of the Amazons") is referred to by Lyell in a letter written to Bunbury in September, 1866 ("Life of Sir Charles Lyell," II., page 409): "Agassiz has written an interesting paper on the 'Geology of the Amazons,' but, I regret to say, he has gone wild about glaciers, and has actually announced his opinion that the whole of the great valley, down to its mouth in latitude 0 deg., was filled by ice..." Agassiz published a paper, "Observations Geologiques faites dans la Vallee de l'Amazone," in the "Comptes Rendus," Volume LXIV., page 1269, 1867. See also a letter addressed to M. Marcou, published in the "Bull. Soc. Geol. France," Volume XXIV., page 109, 1866.) His evidence reduces itself to supposed moraines, which would be difficult to trace in a forest-clad country; and with respect to boulders, these are not said to be angular, and their source cannot be known in a country so imperfectly explored. When I was at Rio, I was continually astonished at the depth (sometimes 100 feet) to which the granitic rocks were decomposed in situ, and this soft matter would easily give rise to great alluvial accumulations; I well remember finding it difficult to draw a line between the alluvial matter and the softened rock in situ. What a splendid imagination Agassiz has, and how energetic he is! What capital work he would have done, if he had sucked in your "Principles" with his mother's milk. It is wonderful that he should have written such wild nonsense about the valley of the Amazon; yet not so wonderful when one remembers that he once maintained before the British Association that the chalk was all deposited at once.
With respect to the insects of Chili, I knew only from Bates that the species of Carabus showed no special affinity to northern species; from the great difference of climate and vegetation I should not have expected that many insects would have shown such affinity. It is more remarkable that the birds on the broad and lofty Cordillera of Tropical S. America show no
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