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species only strongly marked varieties. The subject is in many ways so very important for me; I wish much you would think of any well-worked Floraz with from 1000-2000 species, with the varieties marked. It is good to have hair-splitters and lumpers.* I have done, or am doing :
Babington . . . . . .
N. U. States.
| Fragment of Indian Flora.
Has not Koch published a good German Flora? Does he mark varieties? Could you send it me? Is there not some grand Russian Flora, which perhaps has varieties marked ? The Floras ought to be well known.
I am in no hurry for a few weeks. Will you turn this in your head when, if ever, you have leisure? The subject is very important for my work, though I clearly see many causes of error. ...
C. Darwin to Asa Gray.
Down, Feb. 21st [1859). MY DEAR GRAY,--My last letter begged no favour, this one does : but it will really cost you very little trouble to answer to me, and it will be of very great service to me, owing to a remark made to me by Hooker, which I cannot credit, and which was suggested to him by one of my letters. He suggested my asking you, and I told him I would not give the least hint what he thought. I generally believe Hooker
* Those who make many species are the "splitters," and those who make few are the "lumpers."
implicitly, but he is sometimes, I think, and he confesses it, rather over critical, and his ingenuity in discovering flaws seems to me admirable. Here is my question :-“Do you think that good botanists in drawing up a local Flora, whether small or large, or in making a Prodromus like De Candolle's, would almost universally, but unintentionally and unconsciously, tend to record (i. e., marking with Greek letters and giving short characters) varieties in the large or in the small genera ? Or would the tendency be to record the varieties about equally in genera of all sizes? Are you yourself conscious on reflection that you have attended to, and recorded more carefully the varieties in large or small, or very small genera ?”
I know what fleeting and trifling things varieties very often are; but my query applies to such as have been thought worth marking and recording. If you could screw time to send me ever so brief an answer to this, pretty soon, it would be a great service to me. Yours most truly obliged,
P. S.-Do you know whether any one has ever published any remarks on the geographical range of varieties of plants in comparison with the species to which they are supposed to belong? I have in vain tried to get some vague idea, and with the exception of a little information on this head given me by Mr. Watson in a paper on Land Shells in V. States, I have quite failed ; but perhaps it would be difficult for you to give me even a brief answer on this head, and if so I am not so unreasonable, I assure you, as to expect it.
If you are writing to England soon, you could enclose other letters [for] me to forward.
Please observe the question is not whether there are more or fewer varieties in larger or smaller genera, but whether there is a stronger or weaker tendency in the minds of botanists to record such in large or small genera.
Down, May 6th (1858). ... I send by this post my MS. on the “commonness," "range,” and “variation” of species in large and small genera. You have undertaken a horrid job in so very kindly offering to read it, and I thank you warmly. I have just corrected the copy, and am disappointed in finding how tough and obscure it is; but I cannot make it clearer, and at present I loathe the very sight of it. The style of course requires further correction, and if published I must try, but as yet see not how, to make it clearer.
If you have much to say and can have patience to consider the whole subject, I would meet you in London on the Phil. Club day, so as to save you the trouble of writing. For Heaven's sake, you stern and awful judge and sceptic, remember that my conclusions may be true, notwithstanding that Botanists may have recorded more varieties in large than in small genera. It seems to me a mere balancing of probabilities. Again I thank you most sincerely, but I fear you will find it a horrid job.
P.S. -As usual, Hydropathy has made a man of me for a short time: I hope the sea will do Mrs. Hooker much good.
C. Darwin to A. R. Wallace.
Down, Dec. 22nd, 1857. MY DEAR SIR, -I thank you for your letter of Sept. 27th. I am extremely glad to hear that you are attending to distribution in accordance with theoretical ideas. I am a firm believer that without speculation there is no good and original observation. Few travellers have attended to such points as you are now at work on; and, indeed, the whole subject of distribution of animals is dreadfully behind that of plants. You say that you have been somewhat surprised at no notice having been taken of your paper in the Annals.* I cannot say that I am, for so very few naturalists care for anything beyond the mere description of species. But you must not suppose that your paper has not been attended to: two very good men, Sir C. Lyell, and Mr. E. Blyth at Calcutta, spe. cially called my attention to it. Though agreeing with you on your conclusions in that paper, I believe I go much further than you; but it is too long a subject to enter on my speculative notions. I have not yet seen your paper on the distribution of animals in the Aru Islands. I shall read it with the utmost interest; for I think that the most interesting quarter of the whole globe in respect to distribution, and I have long been very imperfectly trying to collect data for the Malay Archipelago. I shall be quite prepared to subscribe to your doctrine of subsidence ; indeed, from the quite independent evidence of the Coral Reefs I coloured my original map (in my Coral volume) of the Aru Islands as one of subsidence, but got frightened and left it uncoloured. But I can see that you are inclined to go much further than I am in regard to the former connection of oceanic islands with continents. Ever since poor E. Forbes propounded this doctrine it has been eagerly followed; and Hooker elaborately discusses the former connection of all the Antarctic Islands and New Zealand and South America. About a year ago I discussed this subject much with Lyell and Hooker (for I shall have to treat of it), and wrote out my arguments in opposition ; but you will be glad to hear that neither Lyell nor Hooker thought much of my arguments. Nevertheless, for once in my life, I dare withstand the almost preternatural sagacity of Lyell.
You ask about land-shells on islands far distant from continents : Madeira has a few identical with those of Europe, and here the evidence is really good, as some of them are
*'On the law that has regulated the introduction of New Species.. Ann. Nat. Hist., 1855.
sub-fossil. In the Pacific Islands there are cases of identity, which I cannot at present persuade myself to account for by introduction through man's agency; although Dr. Aug. Gould has conclusively shown that many land-shells have thus been distributed over the Pacific by man's agency. These cases of introduction are most plaguing. Have you not found it so in the Malay Archipelago ? It has seemed to me in the lists of mammals of Timor and other islands, that several in all probability have been naturalised. ....
You ask whether I shall discuss “man." I think I shall avoid the whole subject, as so surrounded with prejudices ; though I fully admit that it is the highest and most interesting problem for the naturalist. My work, on which I have now been at work more or less for twenty years, will not fix or settle anything; but I hope it will aid by giving a large collection of facts, with one definite end. I get on very slowly, partly from ill-health, partly from being a very slow worker. I have got about half written ; but I do not suppose I shall published under a couple of years. I have now been three whole months on one chapter on Hybridism!
I am astonished to see that you expect to remain out three or four years more. What a wonderful deal you will have seen, and what interesting areas—the grand Malay Archipelago and the richest parts of South America! I infinitely admire and honour your zeal and courage in the good cause of Natural Science; and you have my very sincere and cordial good wishes for success of all kinds, and may all your theories succeed, except that on Oceanic Islands, on which subject I will do battle to the death. Pray believe me, my dear sir, yours very sincerely,
C. Darwin to W. D. Fox.
Feb. 8th (1858). ... I am working very hard at my book, perhaps too hard. It will be very big, and I am become most deeply interested in the way facts fall into groups. I am like Crosus