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— that we stayed for a while at Coblentz. I remember

time:2023-11-29 13:48:30 source:History Network author:food read:977次

The expression "Wahl der Lebens-Weise" (95/2. "Die fruchtbarste und allgemeinste Ursache der Varietaten-Bildung ist jedoch die Wahl der Lebens- Weise" (loc. cit., page 112).) makes me doubt whether B. understands what I mean by Natural Selection, as I have told him. He says (if I understand him) that you ought to be on the same side with me.

— that we stayed for a while at Coblentz. I remember

P.S. Sunday afternoon.--I have kept back this to thank you for your letter, with much news, received this morning. My conscience is uneasy at the time you waste in amusing and interesting me. I was very curious to hear about Phillips. The review in the "Annals" is, as I was convinced, by Wollaston, for I have had a very cordial letter from him this morning. (95/3. A bibliographical Notice "On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection; or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life." ("Annals and Mag." Volume V., pages 132-43, 1860). The notice is not signed. Referring to the article, in a letter to Lyell, February 15th, 1860, Darwin writes: "I am perfectly convinced...that the review in the "Annals" is by Wollaston; no one else in the world would have used so many parentheses" ("Life and Letters," II., page 284).)

— that we stayed for a while at Coblentz. I remember

I send by this post an attack in the "Gardeners' Chronicle" by Harvey (a first-rate botanist, as you probably know). (95/4. In the "Gardeners' Chronicle" of February 18th, 1860, W.H. Harvey described a case of monstrosity in Begonia frigida, which he argued was hostile to the theory of Natural Selection. The passage about Harvey's attack was published in the "Life and Letters," II., page 275.) It seems to me rather strange; he assumes the permanence of monsters, whereas monsters are generally sterile, and not often inheritable. But grant his case, it comes [to this], that I have been too cautious in not admitting great and sudden variations. Here again comes in the mischief of my abstract. In fuller MS. I have discussed the parallel case of a normal fish like a monstrous gold-fish.

— that we stayed for a while at Coblentz. I remember

I end my discussion by doubting, because all cases of monstrosities which resemble normal structures which I could find were not in allied groups. Trees like Aspicarpa (95/5. Aspicarpa, an American genus of Malpighiaceae, is quoted in the "Origin" (Edition VI., page 367) as an illustration of Linnaeus' aphorism that the characters do not give the genus, but the genus gives the characters. During several years' cultivation in France Aspicarpa produced only degraded flowers, which differed in many of the most important points of structure from the proper type of the order; but it was recognised by M. Richard that the genus should be retained among the Malpighiaceae. "This case," adds Darwin, "well illustrates the spirit of our classification."), with flowers of two kinds (in the "Origin"), led me also to speculate on the same subject; but I could find only one doubtfully analogous case of species having flowers like the degraded or monstrous flowers. Harvey does not see that if only a few (as he supposes) of the seedlings inherited being monstrosities, Natural Selection would be necessary to select and preserve them. You had better return the "Gardeners' Chronicle," etc., to my brother's. The case of Begonia (95/6. Harvey's criticism was answered by Sir J.D. Hooker in the following number of the "Gardeners' Chronicle" (February 25th, 1860, page 170).) in itself is very curious; I am tempted to answer the notice, but I will refrain, for there would be no end to answers.

With respect to your objection of a multitude of still living simple forms, I have not discussed it anywhere in the "Origin," though I have often thought it over. What you say about progress being only occasional and retrogression not uncommon, I agree to; only that in the animal kingdom I greatly doubt about retrogression being common. I have always put it to myself--What advantage can we see in an infusory animal, or an intestinal worm, or coral polypus, or earthworm being highly developed? If no advantage, they would not become highly developed: not but what all these animals have very complex structures (except infusoria), and they may well be higher than the animals which occupied similar places in the economy of nature before the Silurian epoch. There is a blind snake with the appearances and, in some respects, habits of earthworms; but this blind snake does not tend, as far as we can see, to replace and drive out worms. I think I must in a future edition discuss a few more such points, and will introduce this and H.C. Watson's objection about the infinite number of species and the general rise in organisation. But there is a directly opposite objection to yours which is very difficult to answer--viz. how at the first start of life, when there were only the simplest organisms, how did any complication of organisation profit them? I can only answer that we have not facts enough to guide any speculation on the subject.

With respect to Lepidosiren, Ganoid fishes, perhaps Ornithorhynchus, I suspect, as stated in the "Origin," (95/7. "Origin of Species" (Edition VI.), page 83.), that they have been preserved, from inhabiting fresh-water and isolated parts of the world, in which there has been less competition and less rapid progress in Natural Selection, owing to the fewness of individuals which can inhabit small areas; and where there are few individuals variation at most must be slower. There are several allusions to this notion in the "Origin," as under Amblyopsis, the blind cave-fish (95/8. "Origin," page 112.), and under Heer (95/9. "Origin," page 83.) about Madeira plants resembling the fossil and extinct plants of Europe.

LETTER 96. TO JAMES LAMONT. Down, March 5th [1860?].

I am much obliged for your long and interesting letter. You have indeed good right to speak confidently about the habits of wild birds and animals; for I should think no one beside yourself has ever sported in Spitzbergen and Southern Africa. It is very curious and interesting that you should have arrived at the conclusion that so-called "Natural Selection" had been efficient in giving their peculiar colours to our grouse. I shall probably use your authority on the similar habits of our grouse and the Norwegian species.


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