P.S. (2). I have just read, and like very much, your review of Schimper. (232/2. A review of Schimper's "Traite de Paleontologie Vegetale," the first portion of which was published in 1869. "Nature," November 11th, 1869, page 48.)
LETTER 233. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, November 19th .
Thank you much for telling me all about the C.B., for I much wished to hear. It pleases me extremely that the Government have done this much; and as the K.C.B.'s are limited in number (which I did not know), I excuse it. I will not mention what you have told me to any one, as it would be Murchisonian. But what a shame it is to use this expression, for I fully believe that Murchison would take any trouble to get any token of honour for any man of science.
I like all scientific periodicals, including poor "Scientific Opinion," and I think higher than you do of "Nature." Lord, what a rhapsody that was of Goethe, but how well translated; it seemed to me, as I told Huxley, as if written by the maddest English scholar. It is poetry, and can I say anything more severe? The last number of the "Academy" was splendid, and I hope it will soon come out fortnightly. I wish "Nature" would search more carefully all foreign journals and transactions.
I am now reading a German thick pamphlet (233/1. "Die Abhangigheit der Pflanzengestalt von Klima und Boden. Ein Beitrag zur Lehre von der Enstehung und Verbreitung der Arten, etc." Festschrift zur 43 Versammlung Deutscher Naturforscher und Aertze in Innsbruck (Innsbruck, 1869).) by Kerner on Tubocytisus; if you come across it, look at the map of the distribution of the eighteen quasi-species, and at the genealogical tree. If the latter, as the author says, was constructed solely from the affinities of the forms, then the distribution is wonderfully interesting; we may see the very steps of the formation of a species. If you study the genealogical tree and map, you will almost understand the book. The two old parent connecting links just keep alive in two or three areas; then we have four widely extended species, their descendants; and from them little groups of newer descendants inhabiting rather small areas...
LETTER 234. TO CAMILLE DARESTE. Down, November 20th, 1869.
I am glad that you are a candidate for the Chair of Physiology in Paris. As you are aware from my published works, I have always considered your investigations on the production of monstrosities as full of interest. No subject is at the present time more important, as far as my judgment goes, than the ascertaining by experiment how far structure can be modified by the direct action of changed conditions; and you have thrown much light on this subject.
I observe that several naturalists in various parts of Europe have lately maintained that it is now of the highest interest for science to endeavour to lessen, as far as possible, our profound ignorance on the cause of each individual variation; and, as Is. Geoffroy St. Hilaire long ago remarked, monstrosities cannot be separated by any distinct line from slighter variations.