I quite agree about the extreme difficulty of the distribution of land mollusca. You will have seen in the last edition of "Origin" (381/3. "Origin," Edition IV., page 429. The reference is to MM. Marten's (381/4. For Marten's read Martins' [the name is wrongly spelt in the "Origin of Species."]) experiments on seeds "in a box in the actual sea.") that my observations on the effects of sea-water have been confirmed. I still suspect that the legs of birds which roost on the ground may be an efficient means; but I was interrupted 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 .
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.