I much wish that you would so far keep this in mind, that whenever we meet I might hear how far you differ or concur in this. I have always looked at Barneoud's and Brulle's proposition as only in some degree analogous.

P.S. I see in my abstract of Milne Edwards' paper, he speaks of "the most perfect and important organs" as being first developed, and I should have thought that this was usually synonymous with the most developed or modified.

LETTER 53. TO J.D. HOOKER.

(53/1. The following letter is chiefly of interest as showing the amount and kind of work required for Darwin's conclusions on "large genera varying," which occupy no more than two or three pages in the "Origin" (Edition I., page 55). Some correspondence on the subject is given in the "Life and Letters," II., pages 102-5.)

Down, August 22nd [1857].

Your handwriting always rejoices the cockles of my heart; though you have no reason to be "overwhelmed with shame," as I did not expect to hear.

I write now chiefly to know whether you can tell me how to write to Hermann Schlagenheit (is this spelt right?) (53/2. Schlagintweit.), for I believe he is returned to England, and he has poultry skins for me from W. Elliot of Madras.

I am very glad to hear that you have been tabulating some Floras about varieties. Will you just tell me roughly the result? Do you not find it takes much time? I am employing a laboriously careful schoolmaster, who does the tabulating and dividing into two great cohorts, more carefully than I can. This being so, I should be very glad some time to have Koch, Webb's Canaries, and Ledebour, and Grisebach, but I do not know even where Rumelia is. I shall work the British flora with three separate Floras; and I intend dividing the varieties into two classes, as Asa Gray and Henslow give the materials, and, further, A. Gray and H.C. Watson have marked for me the forms, which they consider real species, but yet are very close to others; and it will be curious to compare results. If it will all hold good it is very important for me; for it explains, as I think, all classification, i.e. the quasi-branching and sub-branching of forms, as if from one root, big genera increasing and splitting up, etc., as you will perceive. But then comes in, also, what I call a principle of divergence, which I think I can explain, but which is too long, and perhaps you would not care to hear. As you have been on this subject, you might like to hear what very little is complete (for my schoolmaster has had three weeks' holidays)--only three cases as yet, I see.

BABINGTON--British Flora.

593 species in genera of 5 and 593 (odd chance equal) in upwards have in a thousand genera of 3 and downwards have species presenting vars. in a thousand presenting vars. 134/1000.* 37/1000.

(*53/3. This sentence may be interpreted as follows: The number of species which present varieties are 134 per thousand in genera of 5 species and upwards. The result is obtained from tabulation of 593 species.)

HOOKER--New Zealand.

Genera with 4 species and With 3 species and downwards upwards, 150/1000. 114/1000.

GODRON--Central France.

With 5 species and upwards With 3 species and downwards 160/1000. 105/1000.

I do not enter into details on omitting introduced plants and very varying genera, as Rubus, Salix, Rosa, etc., which would make the result more in favour.

I enjoyed seeing Henslow extremely, though I was a good way from well at the time. Farewell, my dear Hooker: do not forget your visit here some time.

LETTER 54. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, November 14th [1857].

On Tuesday I will send off from London, whither I go on that day, Ledebour's three remaining volumes, Grisebach and Cybele, i.e., all that I have, and most truly am I obliged to you for them. I find the rule, as yet, of the species varying most in the large genera universal, except in Miquel's very brief and therefore imperfect list of the Holland flora, which makes me very anxious to tabulate a fuller flora of Holland.

More Letters of Charles Darwin Volume I Page 60

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book