[[1]] Kew October 28 [18]62 Dear [Asa] Gray I have 3 letters to thank

October 28 [18]62
Dear [Asa] Gray
I have 3 letters to thank you for, 2 this week. I am getting another photograph done
wh[ich] I will send you when ready. Bentham *1 has written you about the "Genera
Plantarum" for which as thanks, I will send the copies in the autumn box of distributa
very soon. I hope.
Now for Dawson*2, I cannot thank you too much for sending me his letter, because
for he had sent an me a copy of his pamphlet, with mss criticism, as notes, on my
essay, which were hardly intelligeable[sic] to me. I had put this on one side till
Welwitschia was off my hands, to answer it at leisure. The letter you sent clears up
much of his obscurity, & I cannot feel too grateful for your confidence in sending it to
me. I should perhaps not prejudge him in your eyes by telling you, that I fear he
knows thinks that I have quashed some of his
[[2]] fossil (coal) Bot[anical] work papers sent to [the] Geolog[ical] Soc[iety]. These
were referred to me & I had to do this more than once, & always with intense pain, & with full
knowledge that Lyell (who cannot keep a secret) would let it out. So I always
refused to report alone on his papers, & always had Bunbury*3 associated with me
(who entirely agreed with me). There was always much good matter in his papers, but he wes
i was so ignorant of structural & phys[ical] Bot[any], that he neither understood
structure, nor could describe either tissues[?] or ferns with the rudest attempt approach
to scientific accuracy. In this case it is however his hatred of Darwinism & "Natural
Selection" that urges him against my essay, as his letter reveals. However his letter
is a good an honest one & I quite see its main force, e.g. which is that I should have
boldly said begun, "This is a Botanical description, I ignore all geolog[ical] theory but
the one proved fact, that there was a glacial epoch & that
[[3]] the Northern Flora has not materially specifically changed since. I hold all theories as
to submergence of land &c. as unproven problematical."
Now as to Dawson's specific complaints, he really must, as you say, have written read
my essay most carelessly. The points for discussion are marked in pencil on it.
I. I nowhere assume (or allude to the subject) that the northern land subsided! & I most
certainly do not admit the Geological evidence of such subsidence, it depends I
believe wholly on distribution of blocks, drift &c. &c. which Geologists in this country
are daily more & more regarding as subareial[sic], & not submarine phenomena.
II. A glacial land connection between Greenland & Scandinavia does not in the least
influence my vers views or statements. Nor, if proved, will it "explain any of the facts",
if, as I guess the present Scandinavian Flora is was then far south in Europe.
lll. "Scandinavia is as cold as Greenland" by all means, -- colder I should say for my
hypothesis sake!
IV. The wide Eastern sea separating Scand[inavia] from [the] rest of Europe is
[[4]] fine hypothesis -- true or false it does not in the least concern me.
V. Scandinavia's rich flora must be quite modern &c. all this is basically what I think
& say. -- it is of course the Gulf stream that carried caused the warmth that brought
up so many plants to Lapland.
VI. The separation of Greenland is just what I have assumed as the cause for the
post glacial northern migration not having spread to Greenland!
VII. This I do not at all understand. How can the western direction of the old world
mountains affect the Arctic Flora? Except by as I have shown, by causing producing
a differentce of types between Arctic Europe & Alpine Europe; which does not exist
between America Arctic & America Alpine -- further, the Scandinavian Mts & Ural are
not E[astern] & W[estern] chains! Again what can glacial migration of annualsxx
have to do with it when there are no arctic annuals! xx I see it is animals not annuals, -question if so then why does not this migration of perennials introduce the Iceland caltha
&c., &c., &c., into Greenland?*4
Lastly the only Botanical omission he has found out is Potentilla 3.dentata, a
N.U.S.[?] .[Northern United States?] plant omitted accidently, & as to haste you
know how long it took me & I
[[5]] may add that the Geolog[ical] part was carefully revised by a very old hand & by
a very young one too, (Hector)*5 who had all Canadian & American northern Geology
at his fingers' ends, & twice revised the work. -- I shall write to Dawson as soon as I
have time, & send him through you a copy also of the Australian Essay!
Oct[ober] 29[th] Lyell*6 came to us last night, & I took the opportunity of asking him
about my Geology -- he has no fault to find, & holds the Arctic subsidence of which
Dawson makes so much in his essay note to me, as no way proved, & a mere
hypothosis -- he quite agrees as far as he can see with my Geology & conclusions, &
will now go into the subject. -- he says poor Dawson is in a great way about his,
(Lyell's), taking up Darwinism. xEntre nous Lyell thinks D[awson] a man of very
bonnie intellect just very zealous good honest & faithful.*7 Lyell is well you will be
glad to hear & Lady L[yell]. who came with him, blooming. I had seen neither for 6 months!
His book on Man will be out in a few weeks.
I shall in writing to Dawson, make no allusion, to any points not opened up by his
remarks critical notes in his essay as sent to me; they are pretty
[[6]] much the same as those he writes to you about, but not so clearly put. After all
the struggle is now commencing between the relative value of Geological evidence
drawn from existing distribution & variation of species; & past positions with apparent
fixity of fossil species. As to evidence of upheaval & downheaval they are always
good for no more than they show. We know that what is as[?] now up was once
down, but who knows what & how much of what now is down below oceans was
once up! & "de non existentibus et non apparent<ibus eadem est ratio>*8 &c. &c.
&c." -- especially with Geologists.
The difficulty however with Dawson is that he cannot be expected to feel the force of
the facts in distribution & variation which we want explained -- still less can he feel
how totally inadequate pure Geolog[ical] considerations are to solve them. In the
present state of science these questions must be argued for 2 points of view, the
[[7]] purely biological, & the purely geological. & no hypothesis can stand that does
real violence to either -- any hypothesis is an advance which correlates any
important facts in both, & that is best to which all facts lend themselves. -- & further
than this no one can go: for the best theories like that of gravity are only makeshifts.
Latent heat was first a speculation, then a theory, then a fact established; & now it
is a myth! -- so were absolute specific creations; -- & so may creation by variation be.
So[?] is not 2 nerves going to the nucleus of every ovule in both ♀ & ♂ flowers of
Welwitschia -- I will send you a set of the plates when they are struck off, by post.
I am so glad you have taken up Cypripedium.
A thousand thanks for Asimina. Have you thought any more about a systematic
resumé of American Flora? I am so anxious you should do this for your reputations
sake as well as for Botany & posterity. Do
[[8]] think of it. I am plodding away at Gen[era] Plant[arum] it is delightful to come
across Genera defined by you.
Ev[er] your aff[ectionate] J D Hooker. [signature]
1. George Bentham CMG FRS (1800 --1884), was a British botanist who donated his
herbarium of more than 100,000 specimens to Kew. He spent 27 years with Joseph
Hooker in research and examination of specimens for the work Genera Plantarum.
2. Sir John William Dawson (1820 -- 1899), was a renowned palaeontologist,
principal of McGill University and 1st President of the Royal Society of Canada. He
was a prolific critic of organic development and Darwinism. Joseph Hooker ensured
that Dawson's Bakerian Lecture, a seminal work on Devonian plants, to the Royal
Society, was rejected for publication.
3. Sir Charles Bunbury (1809 - 1886), was a man of private means who was free to
indulge his love of botany, with a special interest in fossils.
4. This sentence is written up the left hand margin of the page. [[4]]
5. James Hector (1834 - 1907) was a Scottish geologist. He was surgeon &
geologist on the government expedition to the Western parts of British North America
1857 - 60. He became Director of the Meteorological department of the New
Zealand Institute, of the Colonial Museum, & of the Botanical Garden, Wellington
1866 -1903.
6. Sir Charles Lyell (1797 -- 1875) was a British lawyer and the foremost geologist of
his day. He is best known as the author of Principles of Geology.
7. This sentence is written up the left hand margin of page 5.
8. This translates "non existent or non apparent the argument is the same."
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