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THE POCKET ALMANACK.
you over your improved prospects about India,* but at the same time must sincerely groan over it. I shall feel quite lost without you to discuss many points with, and to point out (ill-luck to you) difficulties and objections to my species hypotheses. It will be a horrid shame if money stops your expedition ; but Government will surely help you to some extent.
. . Your present trip, with your new views, amongst the coal-plants, will be very interesting. If you have spare time, but not without, I should enjoy having some news of your progress. Your present trip will work well in, if you go to any of the coal districts in India. Would this not be a good object to parade before Government; the utilitarian souls would comprehend this. By the way, I will get some work out of you, about the domestic races of animals in India. ..
C. Darwin to L. Jenyns (Blomefield).
Down (1847). DEAR JENYNS, -I am very much obliged for the capital little Almanack; f it so happened that I was wishing for one to keep in my portfolio. I had never seen this kind before, and shall certainly get one for the future. I think it is very amusing to have a list before one's eyes of the order of ap
* Sir J. Hooker left England on November 11, 1847, for his Hima. layan and Tibetan journey. The expedition was supported by a small grant from the Treasury, and thus assumed the character of a Government mission.
+ “This letter relates to a small Almanack first published in 1843, under the name of 'The Naturalists' Pocket Almanack,' by Mr. Van Voorst, and which I edited for him. It was intended especially for those who interest themselves in the periodic phenomena of animals and plants, of which a select list was given under each month of the year.
“The Pocket Almanack contained, moreover, miscellaneous information relating to Zcology and Botany ; to Natural History and other scientific societies; to public Museums and Gardens, in addition to the ordi. nary celestial phenomena found in most other Almanacks. It continued to be issued till 1847, after which year the publication was abandoned.”— From a letter from Rev. L. Blomefield to F. Darwin.
pearance of the plants and animals around one; it gives a fresh interest to each fine day. There is one point I should like to see a little improved, viz., the correction for the clock at shorter intervals. Most people, I suspect, who like myself have dials, will wish to be more precise than with a margin of three minutes. I always buy a shilling almanack for this sole end. By the way, yours, i. e., Van Voorst's Almanack, is very dear; it ought, at least, to be advertised post-free for the shilling. Do you not think a table (not rules) of conversion of French into English measures, and perhaps weights, would be exceedingly useful ; also centigrade into Fahrenheit,--magnifying powers according to focal distances ?-in fact you might make it the most useful publication of the age. I know what I should like best of all, namely, current meteorological remarks for each month, with statement of average course of winds and prediction of weather, in accordance with movements of barometer. People, I think, are always amused at knowing the extremes and means of temperature for corresponding times in other years.
I hope you will go on with it another year. With many thanks, my dear Jenyns,
Yours very truly,
C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker.
Down, Sunday (April 18th, 1847). MY DEAR HOOKER, -I return with many thanks Watson's letter, which I have had copied. It is a capital one, and I am extremely obliged to you for obtaining me such valuable information. Surely he is rather in a hurry when he says intermediate varieties must almost be necessarily rare, otherwise they would be taken as the types of the species; for he overlooks numerical frequency as an element. Surely if A, B, C were three varieties, and if A were a good deal the commonest (therefore, also, first known), it would be taken as the type, without regarding whether B was quite intermediate or not, or whether it was rare or not. What capital essays W.
II. C. WATSON.
would write ; but I suppose he has written a good deal in the ‘ Phytologist.' You ought to encourage him to publish on variation ; it is a shame that such facts as those in his let. ter should remain unpublished. I must get you to introduce me to him ; would he be a good and sociable man for Dropmore? * though if he comes, Forbes must not (and I think you talked of inviting Forbes), or we shall have a glorious bat. tle. I should like to see sometime the war correspondence, Have you the ‘Phytologist,' and could you sometime spare it; I would go through it quickly. ... I have read your last five numbers, and as usual have been much interested in several points, especially with your discussions on the beech and potato. I see you have introduced several sentences against us Transmutationists. I have also been looking through the latter volumes of the 'Annals of Natural History,' and have read two such soulless, pompous papers of —, quite worthy of the author . . The contrast of the papers in the Annals with those in the Annales is rather humiliating ; so many papers in the former, with short descriptions of species, with. out one word on their affinities, internal structure, range or habits. I am now reading, and I have picked out some things which have interested me; but he strikes me as rather dullish, and with all his Materia Medica smells of the doctor's shop. I shall ever hate the name of the Materia Medica, since hearing Duncan's lectures at eight o'clock on a winter's morning-a whole, cold, breakfastless hour on the properties of rhubarb !
I hope your journey will be very prosperous. Believe me, my dear Hooker,
P.S.-I think I have only made one new acquaintance of late, that is, R. Chambers ; and I have just received a
* A much enjoyed expedition made from Oxford-when the British Association met there in 1847.
Of the Botany of Hooker's ' Antarctic Voyage.'
presentation copy of the sixth edition of the ‘Vestiges.' Somehow I now feel perfectly convinced he is the author. He is in France, and has written to me thence.
C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker.
Down (1847?). I am delighted to hear that Brongniart thought Sigillaria aquatic, and that Binney considers coal a sort of submarine peat. I would bet 5 to i that in twenty years this will be generally admitted ; * and I do not care for whatever the botanical difficulties or impossibilities may be. If I could but persuade myself that Sigillaria and Co. had a good range of depth, i, e., could live from 5 to 100 fathoms under water, all difficulties of nearly all kinds would be removed (for the simple fact of muddy ordinary shallow sea implies proximity of land). (N.B.—I am chuckling to think how you are sneering all this time. It is not much of a difficulty, there not being shells with the coal, considering how unfavourable deep mud is for most Mollusca, and that shells would probably decay from the humic acid, as seems to take place in peat and in the black moulds (as Lyell tells me) of the Mississippi. So coal question settled-Q. E. D. Sneer away!
Many thanks for your welcome note from Cambridge, and I am glad you like my alma mater, which I despise heartily as a place of education, but love from many most pleasant recollections.
Thanks for your offer of the Phytologist;' I shall be very much obliged for it, for I do not suppose I should be able to borrow it from any other quarter. I will not be set up too much by your praise, but I do not believe I ever lost a book or forgot to return it during a long lapse of time. Your 'Webb’ is well wrapped up, and with your name in large letters outside,
My new microscope is come home (a “splendid play
* An unfulfilled prophecy.
thing," as old R. Brown called it), and I am delighted with it; it really is a splendid plaything. I have been in London for three days, and saw many of our friends. I was extremely sorry to hear a nct very good account of Sir William. Farewell, my dear Hooker, and be a good boy, and make Sigillaria a submarine sea-weed.
C. Darwin to ]. D. Hooker.
Down (May 6th, 1847). MY DEAR HOOKER, —You have made a savage onslaught, and I must try to defend myself. But, first, let me say that I never write to you except for my own good pleasure ; now I fear that you answer me when busy and without inclination (and I am sure I should have none if I was as busy as you). Pray do not do so, and if I thought my writing entailed an answer from you nolens volens, it would destroy all my pleasure in writing. Firstly, I did not consider my letter as reasoning, or even as speculation, but simply as mental rioting; and as I was sending Binney's paper, I poured out to you the result of reading it. Secondly, you are right, indeed, in thinking me mad, if you suppose that I would class any ferns as marine plants ; but surely there is a wide distinction between the plants found upright in the coal-beds and those not upright, and which might have been drifted. Is it not possible that the same circumstances which have preserved the vegetation in situ, should have preserved drifted plants? I know Calamites is found upright; but I fancied its affinities were very obscure, like Sigillaria. As for Lepidodendron, I forgot its existence, as happens when one goes riot, and now know neither what it is, or whether upright. If these plants, i.e. Calamites and Lepidodendron, have very clear relations to terrestrial vegetables, like the ferns have, and are found upright in situ, of course I must give up the ghost. But surely Sigillaria is the main upright plant, and on its obscure affinities I have heard you enlarge.