Tegetmeier will procure for me young birds, about two months old, of all the breeds.

In the course of this next month I hope you will come down here on the Saturday and stay over the Sunday. Some months ago Mr. Bates said he would pay me a visit during June, and I have thought it would be pleasanter for you to come here when I can get him, so that you would have a companion if I get knocked up, as is sadly too often my bad habit and great misfortune.

Did you ever hear of the existence of any sub-breed of the canary in which the male differs in plumage from the female?

LETTER 446. TO F. MULLER. Down, June 3rd [1868].

Your letter of April 22nd has much interested me. I am delighted that you approve of my book, for I value your opinion more than that of almost any one. I have yet hopes that you will think well of pangenesis. I feel sure that our minds are somewhat alike, and I find it a great relief to have some definite, though hypothetical view, when I reflect on the wonderful transformations of animals, the re-growth of parts, and especially the direct action of pollen on the mother form, etc. It often appears to me almost certain that the characters of the parents are "photographed" on the child, only by means of material atoms derived from each cell in both parents, and developed in the child. I am sorry about the mistake in regard to Leptotes. (446/1. See "Animals and Plants," Edition I., Volume II., page 134, where it is stated that Oncidium is fertile with Leptotes, a mistake corrected in the 2nd edition.) I daresay it was my fault, yet I took pains to avoid such blunders. Many thanks for all the curious facts about the unequal number of the sexes in crustacea, but the more I investigate this subject the deeper I sink in doubt and difficulty. Thanks, also, for the confirmation of the rivalry of Cicadae. (446/2. See "Descent of Man," Edition I., Volume I., page 351, for F. Muller's observations; and for a reference to Landois' paper.) I have often reflected with surprise on the diversity of the means for producing music with insects, and still more with birds. We thus get a high idea of the importance of song in the animal kingdom. Please to tell me where I can find any account of the auditory organs in the orthoptera? Your facts are quite new to me. Scudder has described an annectant insect in Devonian strata, furnished with a stridulating apparatus. (446/3. The insect is no doubt Xenoneura antiquorum, from the Devonian rocks of New Brunswick. Scudder compared a peculiar feature in the wing of this species to the stridulating apparatus of the Locustariae, but afterwards stated that he had been led astray in his original description, and that there was no evidence in support of the comparison with a stridulating organ. See the "Devonian Insects of New Brunswick," reprinted in S.H. Scudder's "Fossil Insects of N. America," Volume I., page 179, New York, 1890.) I believe he is to be trusted, and if so the apparatus is of astonishing antiquity. After reading Landois' paper I have been working at the stridulating organ in the lamellicorn beetles, in expectation of finding it sexual, but I have only found it as yet in two cases, and in these it was equally developed in both sexes. I wish you would look at any of your common lamellicorns and take hold of both males and females and observe whether they make the squeaking or grating noise equally. If they do not, you could perhaps send me a male and female in a light little box. How curious it is that there should be a special organ for an object apparently so unimportant as squeaking. Here is another point: have you any Toucans? if so, ask any trustworthy hunter whether the beaks of the males, or of both sexes, are more brightly coloured during the breeding season than at other times of the year? I have also to thank you for a previous letter of April 3rd, with some interesting facts on the variation of maize, the sterility of Bignonia and on conspicuous seeds. Heaven knows whether I shall ever live to make use of half the valuable facts which you have communicated to me...

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book