When I tell you that ever since I was an undergraduate at Cambridge I have felt towards you the most unfeigned respect, from all that I continually heard from poor dear Henslow and others of your great knowledge and original researches, you will believe me when I say that I have rarely in my life been more gratified than by reading your address; though I feel that you speak much too strongly of what I have done. Your notice of pangenesis (225/3. "It would be unpardonable to finish these somewhat desultory remarks without adverting to one of the most interesting subjects of the day,--the Darwinian doctrine of pangenesis...Like everything which comes from the pen of a writer whom I have no hesitation, so far as my judgment goes, in considering as by far the greatest observer of our age, whatever may be thought of his theories when carried out to their extreme results, the subject demands a careful and impartial consideration." (Berkeley, page 86.)) has particularly pleased me, for it has been generally neglected or disliked by my friends; yet I fully expect that it will some day be more successful. I believe I quite agree with you in the manner in which the cast-off atoms or so-called gemmules probably act (225/4. "Assuming the general truth of the theory that molecules endowed with certain attributes are cast off by the component cells of such infinitesimal minuteness as to be capable of circulating with the fluids, and in the end to be present in the unimpregnated embryo-cell and spermatozoid...it seems to me far more probable that they should be capable under favourable circumstances of exercising an influence analogous to that which is exercised by the contents of the pollen-tube or spermatozoid on the embryo-sac or ovum, than that these particles should be themselves developed into cells" (Berkeley, page 87).): I have never supposed that they were developed into free cells, but that they penetrated other nascent cells and modified their subsequent development. This process I have actually compared with ordinary fertilisation. The cells thus modified, I suppose cast off in their turn modified gemmules, which again combine with other nascent cells, and so on. But I must not trouble you any further.
LETTER 226. TO AUGUST WEISMANN. Down, October 22nd, 1868.
I am very much obliged for your kind letter, and I have waited for a week before answering it in hopes of receiving the "kleine Schrift" (226/1. The "kleine Schrift" is "Ueber die Berechtigung der Darwin'schen Theorie," Leipzig, 1868. The "Anhang" is "Ueber den Einfluss der Wanderung und raumlichen Isolirung auf die Artbilding.") to which you allude; but I fear it is lost, which I am much surprised at, as I have seldom failed to receive anything sent by the post.
As I do not know the title, and cannot order a copy, I should be very much obliged if you can spare another.
I am delighted that you, with whose name I am familiar, should approve of my work. I entirely agree with what you say about each species varying according to its own peculiar laws; but at the same time it must, I think, be admitted that the variations of most species have in the lapse of ages been extremely diversified, for I do not see how it can be otherwise explained that so many forms have acquired analogous structures for the same general object, independently of descent. I am very glad to hear that you have been arguing against Nageli's law of perfectibility, which seems to me superfluous. Others hold similar views, but none of them define what this "perfection" is which cannot be gradually attained through Natural Selection. I thought M. Wagner's first pamphlet (226/2. Wagner's first essay, "Die Darwin'sche Theorie und das Migrationsgesetz," 1868, is a separately published pamphlet of 62 pages. In the preface the author states that it is a fuller version of a paper read before the Royal Academy of Science at Munich in March 1868. We are not able to say which of Wagner's writings is referred to as the second pamphlet; his second well- known essay, "Ueber den Einfluss der Geogr. Isolirung," etc., is of later date, viz., 1870.) (for I have not yet had time to read the second) very good and interesting; but I think that he greatly overrates the necessity for emigration and isolation. I doubt whether he has reflected on what must occur when his forms colonise a new country, unless they vary during the very first generation; nor does he attach, I think, sufficient weight to the cases of what I have called unconscious selection by man: in these cases races are modified by the preservation of the best and the destruction of the worst, without any isolation.
I sympathise with you most sincerely on the state of your eyesight: it is indeed the most fearful evil which can happen to any one who, like yourself, is earnestly attached to the pursuit of natural knowledge.
LETTER 227. TO F. MULLER. Down, March 18th .
Since I wrote a few days ago and sent off three copies of your book, I have read the English translation (227/1. "Facts and Arguments for Darwin." See "Life and Letters," III., page 37.), and cannot deny myself the pleasure of once again expressing to you my warm admiration. I might, but will not, repeat my thanks for the very honourable manner in which you often mention my name; but I can truly say that I look at the publication of your essay as one of the greatest honours ever conferred on me. Nothing can be more profound and striking than your observations on development and classification. I am very glad that you have added your justification in regard to the metamorphoses of insects; for your conclusion now seems in the highest degree probable. (227/2. See "Facts and Arguments for Darwin," page 119 (note), where F. Muller gives his reasons for the belief that the "complete metamorphosis" of insects was not a character of the form from which insects have sprung: his argument largely depends on considerations drawn from the study of the neuroptera.) I have re-read many parts, especially that on cirripedes, with the liveliest interest. I had almost forgotten your discussion on the retrograde development of the Rhizocephala. What an admirable illustration it affords of my whole doctrine! A man must indeed be a bigot in favour of separate acts of creation if he is not staggered after reading your essay; but I fear that it is too deep for English readers, except for a select few.