Darwin with a shower of exclamation marks:

"The meaning attached to the term SPECIES in natural history is very definite and intelligible. It includes only the following conditions-- namely, separate origin and distinctness of race, evinced by the constant transmission of some characteristic peculiarity of organisation. A race of animals or of plants marked by any peculiar character which has always been constant and undeviating constitutes a species; and two races are considered as specifically different, if they are distinguished from each other by some characteristic which one cannot be supposed to have acquired, or the other to have lost through any known operation of physical causes; for we are hence led to conclude that the tribes thus distinguished have not descended from the same original stock." (14/10. Prichard, ed. 1836- 7, Volume I., page 106. This passage is almost identical with that quoted from the second edition, Volume I., page 90. The latter part, from "and two races...," occurs in the second edition, though not quoted above.)

As was his custom, Mr. Darwin pinned at the end of the first volume of the 1841-51 edition a piece of paper containing a list of the pages where marked passages occur. This paper bears, written in pencil, "How like my book all this will be!" The words appear to refer to Prichard's discussion on the dispersal of animals and plants; they certainly do not refer to the evolutionary views to be found in the book.)

LETTER 15. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down [1844].

Thank you exceedingly for your long letter, and I am in truth ashamed of the time and trouble you have taken for me; but I must some day write again to you on the subject of your letter. I will only now observe that you have extended my remark on the range of species of shells into the range of genera or groups. Analogy from shells would only go so far, that if two or three species...were found to range from America to India, they would be found to extend through an unusual thickness of strata--say from the Upper Cretaceous to its lowest bed, or the Neocomian. Or you may reverse it and say those species which range throughout the whole Cretaceous, will have wide ranges: viz., from America through Europe to India (this is one actual case with shells in the Cretaceous period).

LETTER 16. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down [1845].

I ought to have written sooner to say that I am very willing to subscribe 1 pound 1 shilling to the African man (though it be murder on a small scale), and will send you a Post-office-order payable to Kew, if you will be so good as to take charge of it. Thanks for your information about the Antarctic Zoology; I got my numbers when in Town on Thursday: would it be asking your publisher to take too much trouble to send your Botany ["Flora Antarctica," by J.D. Hooker, 1844] to the Athenaeum Club? he might send two or three numbers together. I am really ashamed to think of your having given me such a valuable work; all I can say is that I appreciate your present in two ways--as your gift, and for its great use to my species- work. I am very glad to hear that you mean to attack this subject some day. I wonder whether we shall ever be public combatants; anyhow, I congratulate myself in a most unfair advantage of you, viz., in having extracted more facts and views from you than from any one other person. I daresay your explanation of polymorphism on volcanic islands may be the right one; the reason I am curious about it is, the fact of the birds on the Galapagos being in several instances very fine-run species--that is, in comparing them, not so much one with another, as with their analogues from the continent. I have somehow felt, like you, that an alpine form of a plant is not a true variety; and yet I cannot admit that the simple fact of the cause being assignable ought to prevent its being called a variety; every variation must have some cause, so that the difference would rest on our knowledge in being able or not to assign the cause. Do you consider that a true variety should be produced by causes acting through the parent? But even taking this definition, are you sure that alpine forms are not inherited from one, two, or three generations? Now, would not this be a curious and valuable experiment (16/1.

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book