LETTER 220. A.R. WALLACE TO CHARLES DARWIN. Hurstpierpoint, March 1st, 1868.
...Sir C. Lyell spoke to me as if he has greatly admired pangenesis. I am very glad H. Spencer at once acknowledges that his view was something quite distinct from yours. Although, as you know, I am a great admirer of his, I feel how completely his view failed to go to the root of the matter, as yours does. His explained nothing, though he was evidently struggling hard to find an explanation. Yours, as far as I can see, explains everything in growth and reproduction--though, of course, the mystery of life and consciousness remains as great as ever.
Parts of the chapter on pangenesis I found hard reading, and have not quite mastered yet, and there are also throughout the discussions in Volume II. many bits of hard reading, on minute points which we, who have not worked experimentally at cultivation and crossing, as you have done, can hardly see the importance of, or their bearing on the general question.
If I am asked, I may perhaps write an article on the book for some periodical, and, if so, shall do what I can to make "Pangenesis" appreciated...
(220/1. In "Nature," May 25th, 1871, page 69, appeared a letter on pangenesis from Mr. A.C. Ranyard, dealing with the difficulty that the "sexual elements produced upon the scion" have not been shown to be affected by the stock. Mr. Darwin, in an annotated copy of this letter, disputes the accuracy of the statement, but adds: "THE BEST OBJECTION YET RAISED." He seems not to have used Mr. Ranyard's remarks in the 2nd edition of the "Variation of Animals and Plants," 1875.)
LETTER 221. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, May 21st .
I know that you have been overworking yourself, and that makes you think that you are doing nothing in science. If this is the case (which I do not believe), your intellect has all run to letter-writing, for I never in all my life received a pleasanter one than your last. It greatly amused us all. How dreadfully severe you are on the Duke (221/1. The late Duke of Argyll, whose "Reign of Law" Sir J.D. Hooker had been reading.): I really think too severe, but then I am no fair judge, for a Duke, in my eyes, is no common mortal, and not to be judged by common rules! I pity you from the bottom of my soul about the address (221/2. Sir Joseph was President of the British Association at Norwich in 1868: see "Life and Letters," III., page 100. The reference to "Insular Floras" is to Sir Joseph's lecture at the Nottingham meeting of the British Association in 1866: see "Life and Letters," III., page 47.): it makes my flesh creep; but when I pitied you to Huxley, he would not join at all, and would only say that you did and delivered your Insular Flora lecture so admirably in every way that he would not bestow any pity on you. He felt certain that you would keep your head high up. Nevertheless, I wish to God it was all over for your sake. I think, from several long talks, that Huxley will give an excellent and original lecture on Geograph. Distrib. of birds. I have been working very hard--too hard of late--on Sexual Selection, which turns out a gigantic subject; and almost every day new subjects turn up requiring investigation and leading to endless letters and searches through books. I am bothered, also, with heaps of foolish letters on all sorts of subjects, but I am much interested in my subject, and sometimes see gleams of light. All my other letters have prevented me indulging myself in writing to you; but I suddenly found the locust grass (221/3. No doubt the plants raised from seeds taken from locust dung sent by Mr. Weale from South Africa. The case is mentioned in the fifth edition of the "Origin," published in 1869, page 439.) yesterday in flower, and had to despatch it at once. I suppose some of your assistants will be able to make the genus out without great trouble. I have done little in experiment of late, but I find that mignonette is absolutely sterile with pollen from the same plant. Any one who saw stamen after stamen bending upwards and shedding pollen over the stigmas of the same flower would declare that the structure was an admirable contrivance for self-fertilisation. How utterly mysterious it is that there should be some difference in ovules and contents of pollen- grains (for the tubes penetrate own stigma) causing fertilisation when these are taken from any two distinct plants, and invariably leading to impotence when taken from the same plant! By Jove, even Pan. (221/4. Pangenesis.) won't explain this. It is a comfort to me to think that you will be surely haunted on your death-bed for not honouring the great god Pan. I am quite delighted at what you say about my book, and about Bentham; when writing it, I was much interested in some parts, but latterly I thought quite as poorly of it as even the "Athenaeum." It ought to be read abroad for the sake of the booksellers, for five editions have come or are coming out abroad! I am ashamed to say that I have read only the organic part of Lyell, and I admire all that I have read as much as you. It is a comfort to know that possibly when one is seventy years old one's brain may be good for work. It drives me mad, and I know it does you too, that one has no time for reading anything beyond what must be read: my room is encumbered with unread books. I agree about Wallace's wonderful cleverness, but he is not cautious enough in my opinion. I find I must (and I always distrust myself when I differ from him) separate rather widely from him all about birds' nests and protection; he is riding that hobby to death. I never read anything so miserable as Andrew Murray's criticism on Wallace in the last number of his Journal. (221/5. See "Journal of Travel and Natural History," Volume I., No. 3, page 137, London, 1868, for Andrew Murray's "Reply to Mr. Wallace's Theory of Birds' Nests," which appeared in the same volume, page 73. The "Journal" came to an end after the publication of one volume for 1867-8.) I believe this Journal will die, and I shall not cry: what a contrast with the old "Natural History Review."
LETTER 222. TO J.D. HOOKER. Freshwater, Isle of Wight, July 28th .