Yet I feel the greatest confidence that they are so carried. Take, for instance, the two peculiar orchids of the Azores (Habenaria sp.) What other mode of transit is conceivable? The whole subject is one of great difficulty, but I hope my chapter may call attention to a hitherto neglected factor in the distribution of plants.
Your references to the Mauritius literature are very interesting, and will be useful to me; and I again thank you for your valuable remarks.
LETTER 397. TO J.D. HOOKER.
(397/1. The following letters were written to Sir J.D. Hooker when he was preparing his Address as President of the Geographical Section of the British Association at its fiftieth meeting, at York. The second letter (August 12th) refers to an earlier letter of August 6th, published in "Life and Letters," III., page 246.)
4, Bryanston Street, W., Saturday, 26th [February, 1881].
I should think that you might make a very interesting address on Geographical Distribution. Could you give a little history of the subject. I, for one, should like to read such history in petto; but I can see one very great difficulty--that you yourself ought to figure most prominently in it; and this you would not do, for you are just the man to treat yourself in a dishonourable manner. I should very much like to see you discuss some of Wallace's views, especially his ignoring the all-powerful effects of the Glacial period with respect to alpine plants. (397/2. "Having been kindly permitted by Mr. Francis Darwin to read this letter, I wish to explain that the above statement applies only to my rejection of Darwin's view that the presence of arctic and north temperate plants in the SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE was brought about by the lowering of the temperature of the tropical regions during the Glacial period, so that even 'the lowlands of these great continents were everywhere tenanted under the equator by a considerable number of temperate forms ("Origin of Species," Edition VI., page 338). My own views are fully explained in Chapter XXIII. of my "Island Life," published in 1880. I quite accept all that Darwin, Hooker, and Asa Gray have written about the effect of the Glacial epoch in bringing about the present distribution of alpine and arctic plants in the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE."--Note by Mr. Wallace.) I do not know what you think, but it appears to me that he exaggerates enormously the influence of debacles or slips and new surface of soil being exposed for the reception of wind-blown seeds. What kinds of seeds have the plants which are common to the distant mountain-summits in Africa? Wallace lately wrote to me about the mountain plants of Madagascar being the same with those on mountains in Africa, and seemed to think it proved dispersal by the wind, without apparently having inquired what sorts of seeds the plants bore. (397/3. The affinity with the flora of the Eastern African islands was long ago pointed out by Sir J.D. Hooker, "Linn. Soc. Journal," VI., 1861, page 3. Speaking of the plants of Clarence Peak in Fernando Po, he says, "The next affinity is with Mauritius, Bourbon, and Madagascar: of the whole 76 species, 16 inhabit these places and 8 more are closely allied to plants from there. Three temperate species are peculiar to Clarence Peak and the East African islands..." The facts to which Mr. Wallace called Darwin's attention are given by Mr. J.G. Baker in "Nature," December 9th, 1880, page 125. He mentions the Madagascar Viola, which occurs elsewhere only at 7,000 feet in the Cameroons, at 10,000 feet in Fernando Po and in the Abyssinian mountains; and the same thing is true of the Madagascar Geranium. In Mr. Wallace's letter to Darwin, dated January 1st, 1881, he evidently uses the expression "passing through the air" in contradistinction to the migration of a species by gradual extension of its area on land. "Through the air" would moreover include occasional modes of transport other than simple carriage by wind: e.g., the seeds might be carried by birds, either attached to the feathers or to the mud on their feet, or in their crops or intestines.)
I suppose it would be travelling too far (though for the geographical section the discussion ought to be far-reaching), but I should like to see the European or northern element in the Cape of Good Hope flora discussed. I cannot swallow Wallace's view that European plants travelled down the Andes, tenanted the hypothetical Antarctic continent (in which I quite believe), and thence spread to South Australia and the Cape of Good Hope.