Africa! No words can exaggerate the importance, in my opinion, of our colonisation for the future history of the world.
If it were universally known that the birth of children could be prevented, and this were not thought immoral by married persons, would there not be great danger of extreme profligacy amongst unmarried women, and might we not become like the "arreoi" societies in the Pacific? In the course of a century France will tell us the result in many ways, and we can already see that the French nation does not spread or increase much.
I am glad that you intend to continue your investigations, and I hope ultimately may publish on the subject.
LETTER 419. TO K. HOCHBERG. Down, January 13th, 1879.
I am much obliged for your note and for the essay which you have sent me. I am a poor german scholar, and your german is difficult; but I think that I understand your meaning, and hope at some future time, when more at leisure, to recur to your essay. As far as I can judge, you have made a great advance in many ways in the subject; and I will send your paper to Mr. Edmund Gurney (The late Edmund Gurney, author of "The Power of Sound," 1880.), who has written on and is much interested in the origin of the taste for music. In reading your essay, it occurred to me that facility in the utterance of prolonged sounds (I do not think that you allude to this point) may possibly come into play in rendering them musical; for I have heard it stated that those who vary their voices much, and use cadences in long continued speaking, feel less fatigued than those who speak on the same note.
LETTER 420. TO G.J. ROMANES. Down, February 5th, 1880.
(420/1. Romanes was at work on what ultimately came to be a book on animal intelligence. Romanes's reply to this letter is given in his "Life," page 95. The table referred to is published as a frontispiece to his "Mental Evolution in Animals," 1885.)
As I feared, I cannot be of the least use to you. I could not venture to say anything about babies without reading my Expression book and paper on Infants, or about animals without reading the "Descent of Man" and referring to my notes; and it is a great wrench to my mind to change from one subject to another.
I will, however, hazard one or two remarks. Firstly, I should have thought that the word "love" (not sexual passion), as shown very low in the scale, to offspring and apparently to comrades, ought to have come in more prominently in your table than appears to be the case. Secondly, if you give any instance of the appreciation of different stimulants by plants, there is a much better case than that given by you--namely, that of the glands of Drosera, which can be touched roughly two or three times and do not transmit any effect, but do so if pressed by a weight of 1/78000 grain ("Insectivorous Plants" 263). On the other hand, the filament of Dionoea may be quietly loaded with a much greater weight, while a touch by a hair causes the lobes to close instantly. This has always seemed to me a marvellous fact. Thirdly, I have been accustomed to look at the coming in of the sense of pleasure and pain as one of the most important steps in the development of mind, and I should think it ought to be prominent in your table. The sort of progress which I have imagined is that a stimulus produced some effect at the point affected, and that the effect radiated at first in all directions, and then that certain definite advantageous lines of transmission were acquired, inducing definite reaction in certain lines. Such transmission afterwards became associated in some unknown way with pleasure or pain. These sensations led at first to all sorts of violent action, such as the wriggling of a worm, which was of some use. All the organs of sense would be at the same time excited. Afterwards definite lines of action would be found to be the most useful, and so would be practised. But it is of no use my giving you my crude notions.
LETTER 421. TO S. TOLVER PRESTON. Down, May 22nd, 1880.