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the indigenous; but when I came to the other families I found the proportion entirely different, showing that the coincidences in the British Flora were probably accidental !
You will, I presume, give the proportion of the species to the genera, i.e., show on an average how many species each genus contains; though I have done this for myself.
If it would not be too troublesome, do you not think it would be very interesting, and give a very good idea of your Flora, to divide the species into three groups, viz., (a) species common to the old world, stating numbers common to Europe and Asia ; (6) indigenous species, but belonging to genera found in the old world ; and (c) species belonging to genera confined to America or the New World. To make (according to my ideas) perfection perfect, one ought to be told whether there are other cases, like Erica, of genera common in Europe or in Old World not found in your area. But honestly I feel that it is quite ridiculous my writing to you at such length on the subject; but, as you have asked me, I do it gratefully, and write to you as I should to Hooker, who often laughs at me unmercifully, and I am sure you have better reason to do so.
There is one point on which I am most anxious for information, and I mention it with the greatest hesitation, and only in the full belief that you will believe ine that I have not the folly and presumption to hope for a second that you will give it, without you can with very little trouble. The point can at present interest no one but myself, which makes the case wholly different from geographical distribution. The only way in which, I think, you possibly could do it with little trouble would be to bear in mind, whilst correcting your proofsheets of the Manual, my question and put a cross or mark to the species, and whenever sending a parcel to Hooker to let me have such old sheets. But this would give you the trouble of remembering my question, and I can hardly hope or expect that you will do it. But I will just mention what I want; it is to have marked the “close species” in a Flora, so as to compare in different Floras whether the same genera
have “close species," and for other purposes too vague to enumerate. I have attempted, by Hooker's help, to ascertain in a similar way whether the different species of the same genera in distant quarters of the globe are variable or present varieties. The definition I should give of a “close species." was one that you thought specifically distinct, but which you could conceive some other good botanist might think only a race or variety; or, again, a species that you had trouble, though having opportunities of knowing it well, in discrimi. nating from some other species. Supposing that you were inclined to be so very kind as to do this, and could (which I do not expect) spare the time, as I have said, a mere cross to each such species in any useless proof-sheets would give me the information desired, which, I may add, I know must be vague.
How can I apologise enough for all my presumption and the extreme length of this letter? The great good nature of your letter to me has been partly the cause, so that, as is too often the case in this world, you are punished for your good deeds. With hearty thanks, believe me, Yours very truly and gratefully,
C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker.
Down, 18th (July, 1855). ... I think I am getting a mild case about Charlock seed; * but just as about salting, ill luck to it, I cannot remember how many years you would allow that Charlock 1855.1
* In the Gardeners' Chronicle, 1855, p. 758, appeared a notice (half a column in length) by my father on the “ Vitality of Seeds." The facts related refer to the “ Sand-walk"; the wood was planted in 1846 on a piece of pasture land laid down as grass in 1840. In 1855, on the soil being dug in several places, Charlock (Brassica sinapistrum) sprang up freely. The subject continued to interest him, and I find a note dated July 2nd, 1874, in which my father recorded that forty-six plants of Char lock sprang up in that year over a space (14 x 7 feet) which had been dug to a considerable depth.
VITALITY OF SEEDS.
seed might live in the ground. Next time you write, show a bold face, and say in how many years, you think, Charlock seed would probably all be dead. A man told me the other day of, as I thought, a splendid instance,-and splendid it was, for according to his evidence the seed came up alive out of the lower part of the London Clay! !! I disgusted him by telling him that Palms ought to have come up.
You ask how far I go in attributing organisms to a common descent; I answer I know not; the way in which I intend treating the subject, is to show (as far as I can) the facts and arguments for and against the common descent of the species of the same genus; and then show how far the same arguments tell for or against forms, more and more widely different : and when we come to forms of different orders and classes, there remain only some such arguments as those which can perhaps be deduced from similar rudimentary structures, and very soon not an argument is left.
[The following extract from a letter to Mr. Fox (Oct. 1855,* gives a brief mention of the last meeting of the British Association which he attended :) “I really have no news : the only thing we have done for a long time, was to go to Glasgow ; but the fatigue was to me more than it was worth, and E. caught a bad cold. On our return we stayed a single day at Shrewsbury, and enjoyed seeing the old place. I saw a little of Sir Philip † (whom I liked much), and he asked me “why on earth I instigated you to rob his poultry-yard ?” The meeting was a good one, and the Duke of Argyll spoke excellently."]
* In this year he published (' Phil. Mag.' x.) a paper ‘On the power of icebergs to make rectilinear uniformly-directed grooves across a submarine undulatory surface."
+ Sir P. Egerton was a neighbour of Mr. Fox.
THE UNFINISHED BOOK.
May 1856 to June 1858.
[In the Autobiographical chapter (page 69,) my father wrote:-“Early in 1856 Lyell advised me to write out my views pretty fully, and I began at once to do so on a scale three or four times as extensive as that which was afterwards followed in my 'Origin of Species; ' yet it was only an abstract of the materials which I had collected." The letters in the present chapter are chiefly concerned with the preparation of this unfinished book.
The work was begun on May 14th, and steadily continued up to June 1858, when it was interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Wallace's MS. During the two years which we are now considering he wrote ten chapters (that is about one-half) of the projected book. He remained for the most part at home, but paid several visits to Dr. Lane's Water-Cure Establishment at Moor Park, during one of which he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Gilbert White at Selborne.)
C. Darwin to C. Lyell.
May 3 (1856). . . . With respect to your suggestion of a sketch of my views, I hardly know what to think, but will reflect on it, but it goes against my prejudices. To give a fair sketch would be absolutely impossible, for every proposition requires such an
427 array of facts. If I were to do anything, it could only refer to the main agency of change--selection-and perhaps point out a very few of the leading features, which countenance such a view, and some few of the main difficulties. But I do not know what to think; I rather hate the idea of writing for priority, yet I certainly should be vexed if any one were to publish my doctrines before me. Anyhow, I thank you heartily for your sympathy. I shall be in London next week, and I will call on you on Thursday morning for one hour precisely, so as not to lose much of your time and my own; but will you let me this time come as early as 9 o'clock, for I have much which I must do in the morning in my strongest time? Farewell, my dear old patron.
By the way, three plants have come up out of the earth, perfectly enclosed in the roots of the trees. And twenty-nine plants in the table-spoonful of mud, out of the little pond ; Hooker was surprised at this, and struck with it, when I showed him how much mud I had scraped off one duck's feet.
If I did publish a short sketch, where on earth should I publish it?
If I do not hear, I shall understand that I may come from 9 to 10 on Thursday.
C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker,
May 9th, (1856). ... I very much want advice and truthful consolation if you can give it. I had a good talk with Lyell about my species work, and he urges me strongly to publish something. I am fixed against any periodical or Journal, as I positively will not expose myself to an Editor or a Council, allowing a publication for which they might be abused. If I publish anything it must be a very thin and little volume, giving a sketch of my views and difficulties ; but it is reaily dreadfully