Adios." And in illustration of the permanence of the sympathetic bond between them, we quote a letter of 1881 written forty-two years after the first meeting with Sir Joseph in Trafalgar Square (see "Life and Letters," II., page 19). Mr. Darwin wrote: "Your letter has cheered me, and the world does not look a quarter so black this morning as it did when I wrote before. Your friendly words are worth their weight in gold.")
LETTER 13. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, Thursday [January 11th, 1844].
My dear Sir
I must write to thank you for your last letter, and to tell you how much all your views and facts interest me. I must be allowed to put my own interpretation on what you say of "not being a good arranger of extended views"--which is, that you do not indulge in the loose speculations so easily started by every smatterer and wandering collector. I look at a strong tendency to generalise as an entire evil.
What you say of Mr. Brown is humiliating; I had suspected it, but would not allow myself to believe in such heresy. Fitz-Roy gave him a rap in his preface (13/1. In the preface to the "Surveying Voyages of the 'Adventure' and the 'Beagle,' 1826-30, forming Volume I of the work, which includes the later voyage of the "Beagle," Captain Fitz-Roy wrote (March, 1839): "Captain King took great pains in forming and preserving a botanical collection, aided by a person embarked solely for that purpose. He placed this collection in the British Museum, and was led to expect that a first- rate botanist would have examined and described it; but he has been disappointed." A reference to Robert Brown's dilatoriness over King's collection occurs in the "Life and Letters," I., page 274, note.), and made him very indignant, but it seems a much harder one would not have been wasted. My cryptogamic collection was sent to Berkeley; it was not large. I do not believe he has yet published an account, but he wrote to me some year ago that he had described [the specimens] and mislaid all his descriptions. Would it not be well for you to put yourself in communication with him, as otherwise something will perhaps be twice laboured over? My best (though poor) collection of the cryptogams was from the Chonos Islands.
Would you kindly observe one little fact for me, whether any species of plant, peculiar to any island, as Galapagos, St. Helena, or New Zealand, where there are no large quadrupeds, have hooked seeds--such hooks as, if observed here, would be thought with justness to be adapted to catch into wool of animals.
Would you further oblige me some time by informing me (though I forget this will certainly appear in your "Antarctic Flora") whether in islands like St. Helena, Galapagos, and New Zealand, the number of families and genera are large compared with the number of species, as happens in coral islands, and as, I believe, in the extreme Arctic land. Certainly this is the case with marine shells in extreme Arctic seas. Do you suppose the fewness of species in proportion to number of large groups in coral islets is owing to the chance of seeds from all orders getting drifted to such new spots, as I have supposed. Did you collect sea-shells in Kerguelen-land? I should like to know their character.
Your interesting letters tempt me to be very unreasonable in asking you questions; but you must not give yourself any trouble about them, for I know how fully and worthily you are employed. (13/2. The rest of the letter has been previously published in "Life and Letters," II., page 23.)
Besides a general interest about the southern lands, I have been now ever since my return engaged in a very presumptuous work, and I know no one individual who would not say a very foolish one. I was so struck with the distribution of the Galapagos organisms, etc., and with the character of the American fossil mammifers, etc., that I determined to collect blindly every sort of fact which could bear any way on what are species. I have read heaps of agricultural and horticultural books, and have never ceased collecting facts.