LETTER 206. TO F. HILDEBRAND. Down, January 5th .
I thank you for your letter, which has quite delighted me. I sincerely congratulate you on your success in making a graft-hybrid (206/1. Prof. Hildebrand's paper is in the "Bot. Zeitung," 1868: the substance is given in "Variation of Animals and Plants," Edition II., Volume I., page 420.), for I believe it to be a most important observation. I trust that you will publish full details on this subject and on the direct action of pollen (206/2. See Prof. Hildebrand, "Bot. Zeitung," 1868, and "Variation of Animals and Plants," Edition II., Volume I., page 430. A yellow-grained maize was fertilised with pollen from a brown-grained one; the result was that ears were produced bearing both yellow and dark-coloured grains.): I hope that you will be so kind as to send me a copy of your paper. If I had succeeded in making a graft-hybrid of the potato, I had intended to raise seedlings from the graft-hybrid and from the two parent-forms (excluding insects) and carefully compare the offspring. This, however, would be difficult on account of the sterility and variability of the potato. When in the course of a few months you receive my second volume (206/3. This sentence may be paraphrased--"When you receive my book and read the second volume."), you will see why I think these two subjects so important. They have led me to form a hypothesis on the various forms of reproduction, development, inheritance, etc., which hypothesis, I believe, will ultimately be accepted, though how it will be now received I am very doubtful.
Once again I congratulate you on your success.
LETTER 207. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, January 6th .
Many thanks about names of plants, synonyms, and male flowers--all that I wanted.
I have been glad to see Watson's letter, and am sorry he is a renegade about Natural Selection. It is, as you say, characteristic, with the final fling at you.
His difficulty about the difference between the two genera of St. Helena Umbellifers is exactly the same as what Nageli has urged in an able pamphlet (207/1. "Ueber Entstehung und Begriff der naturhist. Art." "Sitz. der K. Bayer. Akad. Der Wiss. zu Munchen," 1865. Some of Nageli's points are discussed in the "Origin," Edition V., page 151.), and who in consequence maintains that there is some unknown innate tendency to progression in all organisms. I said in a letter to him that of course I could not in the least explain such cases; but that they did not seem to me of overwhelming force, as long as we are quite ignorant of the meaning of such structures, whether they are of any service to the plants, or inevitable consequences of modifications in other parts.
I cannot understand what Watson means by the "counter-balance in nature" to divergent variation. There is the counterbalance of crossing, of which my present work daily leads me to see more and more the efficiency; but I suppose he means something very different. Further, I believe variation to be divergent solely because diversified forms can best subsist. But you will think me a bore.