This, however, is said to have been the practice of the country ever since the period of the Romans, and at present the many white pits on the hill sides, which so frequently afford a picturesque contrast with the overhanging yew trees, are all quarried for this purpose.
The number of different kinds of bushes in the hedgerows, entwined by traveller's joy and the bryonies, is conspicuous compared with the hedges of the northern counties.
March 25th [1844?].--The first period of vegetation, and the banks are clothed with pale-blue violets to an extent I have never seen equalled, and with primroses. A few days later some of the copses were beautifully enlivened by Ranunculus auricomus, wood anemones, and a white Stellaria. Again, subsequently, large areas were brilliantly blue with bluebells. The flowers are here very beautiful, and the number of flowers; [and] the darkness of the blue of the common little Polygala almost equals it to an alpine gentian.
There are large tracts of woodland, [cut down] about once every ten years; some of these enclosures seem to be very ancient. On the south side of Cudham Wood a beech hedge has grown to Brobdignagian size, with several of the huge branches crossing each other and firmly grafted together.
Larks abound here, and their songs sound most agreeably on all sides; nightingales are common. Judging from an odd cooing note, something like the purring of a cat, doves are very common in the woods.
June 25th.--The sainfoin fields are now of the most beautiful pink, and from the number of hive-bees frequenting them the humming noise is quite extraordinary. This humming is rather deeper than the humming overhead, which has been continuous and loud during all these last hot days over almost every field. The labourers here say it is made by "air-bees," and one man, seeing a wild bee in a flower different from the hive kind, remarked: "That, no doubt, is an air-bee." This noise is considered as a sign of settled fair weather.
CHAPTER 1.II.--EVOLUTION, 1844-1858.
(Chapter II./1. Since the publication of the "Life and Letters," Mr. Huxley's obituary notice of Charles Darwin has appeared. (Chapter II./2. "Proc. R. Soc." volume 44, 1888, and "Collected Essays (Darwiniana)," page 253, 1899.) This masterly paper is, in our opinion, the finest of the great series of Darwinian essays which we owe to Mr. Huxley. We would venture to recommend it to our readers as the best possible introduction to these pages. There is, however, one small point in which we differ from Mr. Huxley. In discussing the growth of Mr. Darwin's evolutionary views, Mr. Huxley quotes from the autobiography (Chapter II./3. "Life and Letters," I., page 82. Some account of the origin of his evolutionary views is given in a letter to Jenyns (Blomefield), "Life and Letters," II. page 34.) a passage in which the writer describes the deep impression made on his mind by certain groups of facts observed in South America. Mr. Huxley goes on: "The facts to which reference is here made were, without doubt, eminently fitted to attract the attention of a philosophical thinker; but, until the relations of the existing with the extinct species, and of the species of the different geographical areas with one another, were determined with some exactness, they afforded but an unsafe foundation for speculation. It was not possible that this determination should have been effected before the return of the "Beagle" to England; and thus the date (Chapter II./4. The date in question is July 1837, when he "opened first note-book on Transmutation of Species.') which Darwin (writing in 1837) assigns to the dawn of the new light which was rising in his mind, becomes intelligible." This seems to us inconsistent with Darwin's own statement that it was especially the character of the "species on Galapagos Archipelago" which had impressed him. (Chapter II./5. See "Life and Letters," I., page 276.) This must refer to the zoological specimens: no doubt he was thinking of the birds, but these he had himself collected in 1835 (Chapter II./6.