LETTER 187. TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, September 22nd .
I am much obliged for your extract (187/1. Mr. Wallace had sent Darwin a note about a tufted cock-blackbird, which transmitted the character to some of its offspring.); I never heard of such a case, though such a variation is perhaps the most likely of any to occur in a state of nature, and to be inherited, inasmuch as all domesticated birds present races with a tuft or with reversed feathers on their heads. I have sometimes thought that the progenitor of the whole class must have been a crested animal.
Do you make any progress with your journal of travels? I am the more anxious that you should do so as I have lately read with much interest some papers by you on the ourang-outan, etc., in the "Annals," of which I have lately been reading the later volumes. I have always thought that journals of this nature do considerable good by advancing the taste for Natural History: I know in my own case that nothing ever stimulated my zeal so much as reading Humboldt's "Personal Narrative." I have not yet received the last part of the "Linnean Transactions," but your paper (187/2. Probably on the variability and distribution of the butterflies of the Malayan region: "Linn. Soc. Trans." XXV., 1866.) at present will be rather beyond my strength, for though somewhat better, I can as yet do hardly anything but lie on the sofa and be read aloud to. By the way, have you read Tylor and Lecky? (187/3. Tylor, "Early History of Mankind;" Lecky's "Rationalism.") Both these books have interested me much. I suppose you have read Lubbock. (187/4. Lubbock, "Prehistoric Times," page 479: "...the theory of Natural Selection, which with characteristic unselfishness he ascribes unreservedly to Mr. Darwin.") In the last chapter there is a note about you in which I most cordially concur. I see you were at the British Association but I have heard nothing of it except what I have picked up in the "Reader." I have heard a rumour that the "Reader" is sold to the Anthropological Society. If you do not begrudge the trouble of another note (for my sole channel of news through Hooker is closed by his illness) I should much like to hear whether the "Reader" is thus sold. I should be very sorry for it, as the paper would thus become sectional in its tendency. If you write, tell me what you are doing yourself. The only news which I have about the "Origin" is that Fritz Muller published a few months ago a remarkable book (187/5. "Fur Darwin.") in its favour, and secondly that a second French edition is just coming out.
LETTER 188. TO F. MULLER. Down, January 11th .
I received your interesting letter of November 5th some little time ago, and despatched immediately a copy of my "Journal of Researches." I fear you will think me troublesome in my offer; but have you the second German edition of the "Origin?" which is a translation, with additions, of the third English edition, and is, I think, considerably improved compared with the first edition. I have some spare copies which are of no use to me, and it would be a pleasure to me to send you one, if it would be of any use to you. You would never require to re-read the book, but you might wish to refer to some passage. I am particularly obliged for your photograph, for one likes to have a picture in one's mind of any one about whom one is interested. I have received and read with interest your paper on the sponge with horny spicula. (188/1. "Ueber Darwinella aurea, einen Schwamm mit sternformigen Hornnadeln."--"Archiv. Mikrosk. Anat." I., page 57, 1866.) Owing to ill-health, and being busy when formerly well, I have for some years neglected periodical scientific literature, and have lately been reading up, and have thus read translations of several of your papers; amongst which I have been particularly glad to read and see the drawings of the metamorphoses of Peneus. (188/2. "On the Metamorphoses of the Prawns," by Dr. Fritz Muller.--"Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist." Volume XIV., page 104 (with plate), 1864. Translated by W.S. Dallas from "Wiegmann's Archiv," 1863 (see also "Facts and Arguments for Darwin," passim, translated by W.S. Dallas: London, 1869).) This seems to me the most interesting discovery in embryology which has been made for years.
I am much obliged to you for telling me a little of your plans for the future; what a strange, but to my taste interesting life you will lead when you retire to your estate on the Itajahy!
You refer in your letter to the facts which Agassiz is collecting, against our views, on the Amazons. Though he has done so much for science, he seems to me so wild and paradoxical in all his views that I cannot regard his opinions as of any value.
LETTER 189. TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, January 22nd, 1866.