Correspondence with Charles Darwin 165
nor'does this seem improbable, considering the steady circulation of the blood, the continuous movement, and the ready diffusion of other fluids, and the fact that the contents of each pollen grain have to pass through the coats, both of the pollen tube and of the embryonic sack." (I extract these latter addenda from Mr Darwin's letter.)
I do not much complain of having been sent on a false quest by ambiguous language, for I know how conscientious Mr Darwin is in all he writes, how difficult it is to put thoughts into accurate speech, and, again, how words have conveyed false impressions on the simplest matters from the earliest times. Nay, even in that idyllic scene which Mr Darwin has sketched of the first invention of language, awkward blunders must of necessity have often occurred. I refer to the passage in which he supposes some unusually wise ape-like animal to have first thought of imitating the growl of a beast of prey so as to indicate to his fellow-monkeys the nature of expected danger. For my part, I feel as if I had just been assisting at such a scene. As if, having heard my trusted leader utter a cry, not particularly well articulated, but to my ears more like that of a hyena than any other animal, and seeing none of my companions stir a step, I had, like a loyal member of the flock, dashed down a path of which I had happily caught sight, into the plain below, followed by the approving nods and kindly grunts of my wise and most respected chief. And I now feel, after returning from my hard expedition, full of information that the suspected danger was a mistake, for there was no sign of a hyena anywhere in the neighbourhood. I am given to understand for the first time that my leader's cry had no reference to a hyena down in the plain, but to a leopard somewhere up in the trees; his throat had been a little out of order-that was all. Well, my labour has not been in vain; it is something to have established the fact that there are no hyenas in the plain, and I think I see my way to a good position for a look out for leopards among the branches of the trees. In the meantime, Vive Pangenesis! Fxnxcis GALTON.
In view of the previous correspondence lasting for nearly two yearsreferred to only in words which Darwin alone could appreciate : "followed by the approving nods and kindly grunts of my wise and most respected chief"-I think- this letter of Galton's to Nature is one of the finest things he ever wrote in his life; it is few men who have such a great opportunity and use it so bravely. Vive Pangenesis !
Darwin may have saved his theory-for a time, but Galton saved by his restraint his own peace of mind. It suggests the spirit of the old Quaker David Barclay, his ancestor'
Yet with calm and stately mien, Up the streets of Aberdeen Came he slowly riding...
It is certain that those who reverence Galton will appreciate what he did, and-those who reverence both Galton and Darwin will rejoice that their friendship remained unbroken. Nay, not only seemed intensified, but mirabile dictu Darwin now took even an emphasised part in the blood transfusion experiments, which went on for another three years at least ! The rabbits now passed to and fro between London and Down and several of Darwin's and Galton's letters exist'. I cannot help thinking that Darwin still thought some argument for Pangenesis might arise from this further
' For some account of this ancestor of Francis Galton, see Vol. i, p.. 29.
2 It is a grave misfortune that Darwin never put the year on any of these letters. Galton attempted but not very successfully to date them in 1896. When I wrote my Francis Galton, A Centenary Appreciation (University Press, Cambridge), I thought some of Darwin's rabbit letters referred to the first rabbit experiments, but I now feel sure this is not correct. I think I have got them into proper sequence with Galton's, and they all belong to the second and unpublished rabbit series.