2. I cannot see the difficulty about the cessation of the Glacial period.
Between the Miocene and the Pleistocene periods geographical changes occurred which rendered a true Glacial period possible with high excentricity. When the high excentricity passed away the Glacial epoch also passed away in the temperate zone; but it persists in the arctic zone, where, during the Miocene, there were mild climates, and this is due to the persistence of the changed geographical conditions. The present arctic climate is itself a comparatively new and abnormal state of things, due to geographical modification.
As to "epoch" and "period," I use them as synonyms to avoid repeating the same word.
3. Rate of deposition and geological time. Here no doubt I may have gone to an extreme, but my "28 million years" may be anything under 100 millions, as I state. There is an enormous difference between mean and maximum denudation and deposition. In the case of the great faults the upheaval along a given line would itself facilitate the denudation (whether sub-aerial or marine) of the upheaved portion at a rate perhaps a hundred times above the average, just as valleys have been denuded perhaps a hundred times faster than plains and plateaux. So local subsidence might itself lead to very rapid deposition. Suppose a portion of the Gulf of Mexico, near the mouths of the Mississippi, were to subside for a few thousand years, it might receive the greater portion of the sediment from the whole Mississippi valley, and thus form strata at a very rapid rate.
4. You quote the Pampas thistles, etc., against my statement of the importance of preoccupation. But I am referring especially to St. Helena, and to plants naturally introduced from the adjacent continents. Surely if a certain number of African plants reached the island, and became modified into a complete adaptation to its climatic conditions, they would hardly be expelled by other African plants arriving subsequently. They might be so, conceivably, but it does not seem probable. The cases of the Pampas, New Zealand, Tahiti, etc., are very different, where highly developed aggressive plants have been artificially introduced. Under nature it is these very aggressive species that would first reach any island in their vicinity, and, being adapted to the island and colonising it thoroughly, would then hold their own against other plants from the same country, mostly less aggressive in character.
I have not explained this so fully as I should have done in the book. Your criticism is therefore useful.
5. My Chapter XXIII. is no doubt very speculative, and I cannot wonder at your hesitating at accepting my views. To me, however, your theory of hosts of existing species migrating over the tropical lowlands from the N. temperate to the S. temperate zone appears more speculative and more improbable. For where could the rich lowland equatorial flora have existed during a period of general refrigeration sufficient for this? and what became of the wonderfully rich Cape flora, which, if the temperature of tropical Africa had been so recently lowered, would certainly have spread northwards, and on the return of the heat could hardly have been driven back into the sharply defined and very restricted area in which it now exists.
As to the migration of plants from mountain to mountain not being so probable as to remote islands, I think that is fully counterbalanced by two considerations:--
a. The area and abundance of the mountain stations along such a range as the Andes are immensely greater than those of the islands in the N. Atlantic, for example.
b. The temporary occupation of mountain stations by migrating plants (which I think I have shown to be probable) renders time a much more important element in increasing the number and variety of the plants so dispersed than in the case of islands, where the flora soon acquires a fixed and endemic character, and where the number of species is necessarily limited.
No doubt direct evidence of seeds being carried great distances through the air is wanted, but I am afraid can hardly be obtained.