You will wonder what makes me run on so, but I have been working very hard for the last eighteen months on the anatomy, etc., of the Cirripedia (on which I shall publish a monograph), and some of my friends laugh at me, and I fear the study of the Cirripedia will ever remain "wholly unapplied," and yet I feel that such study is better than castle- building.
LETTER 27. TO J.D. HOOKER, at Dr. Falconer's, Botanic Garden, Calcutta. Down, May 10th, 1848.
I was indeed delighted to see your handwriting; but I felt almost sorry when I beheld how long a letter you had written. I know that you are indomitable in work, but remember how precious your time is, and do not waste it on your friends, however much pleasure you may give them. Such a letter would have cost me half-a-day's work. How capitally you seem going on! I do envy you the sight of all the glorious vegetation. I am much pleased and surprised that you have been able to observe so much in the animal world. No doubt you keep a journal, and an excellent one it will be, I am sure, when published. All these animal facts will tell capitally in it. I can quite comprehend the difficulty you mention about not knowing what is known zoologically in India; but facts observed, as you will observe them, are none the worse for reiterating. Did you see Mr. Blyth in Calcutta? He would be a capital man to tell you what is known about Indian Zoology, at least in the Vertebrata. He is a very clever, odd, wild fellow, who will never do what he could do, from not sticking to any one subject. By the way, if you should see him at any time, try not to forget to remember me very kindly to him; I liked all I saw of him. Your letter was the very one to charm me, with all its facts for my Species-book, and truly obliged I am for so kind a remembrance of me. Do not forget to make enquiries about the origin, even if only traditionally known, of any varieties of domestic quadrupeds, birds, silkworms, etc. Are there domestic bees? if so hives ought to be brought home. Of all the facts you mention, that of the wild [illegible], when breeding with the domestic, producing offspring somewhat sterile, is the most surprising: surely they must be different species. Most zoologists would absolutely disbelieve such a statement, and consider the result as a proof that they were distinct species. I do not go so far as that, but the case seems highly improbable. Blyth has studied the Indian Ruminantia. I have been much struck about what you say of lowland plants ascending mountains, but the alpine not descending. How I do hope you will get up some mountains in Borneo; how curious the result will be! By the way, I never heard from you what affinity the Maldive flora has, which is cruel, as you tempted me by making me guess. I sometimes groan over your Indian journey, when I think over all your locked up riches. When shall I see a memoir on Insular floras, and on the Pacific? What a grand subject Alpine floras of the world (27/1. Mr. William Botting Hemsley, F.R.S., of the Royal Gardens, Kew, is now engaged on a monograph of the high-level Alpine plants of the world.) would be, as far as known; and then you have never given a coup d'oeil on the similarity and dissimilarity of Arctic and Antarctic floras. Well, thank heavens, when you do come back you will be nolens volens a fixture. I am particularly glad you have been at the Coal; I have often since you went gone on maundering on the subject, and I shall never rest easy in Down churchyard without the problem be solved by some one before I die. Talking of dying makes me tell you that my confounded stomach is much the same; indeed, of late has been rather worse, but for the last year, I think, I have been able to do more work. I have done nothing besides the barnacles, except, indeed, a little theoretical paper on erratic boulders (27/2. "On the Transportal of Erratic Boulders from a Lower to a Higher Level" ("Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc." Volume IV., pages 315-23. 1848). In this paper Darwin favours the view that the transport of boulders was effected by coast-ice.