The Life and Letters of Darwin, Volume 2 by Sir Francis Darwin - HTML preview

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The Spread Of Evolution




[His book on animals and plants under domestication was my father's chief employment in the year 1863. His diary records the length of time spent over the composition of its chapters, and shows the rate at which he arranged and wrote out for printing the observations and deductions of several years.

The three chapters in volume ii. on inheritance, which occupy 84 pages of print, were begun in January and finished on April 1st; the five on crossing, making 106 pages, were written in eight weeks, while the two chapters on selection, covering 57 pages, were begun on June 16th and finished on July 20th.

The work was more than once interrupted by ill health, and in September, what proved to be the beginning of a six month's illness, forced him to leave home for the water-cure at Malvern. He returned in October and remained ill and depressed, in spite of the hopeful opinion of one of the most cheery and skilful physicians of the day. Thus he wrote to Sir J.D. Hooker in November:--

"Dr. Brinton has been here (recommended by Busk); he does not believe my brain or heart are primarily affected, but I have been so steadily going down hill, I cannot help doubting whether I can ever crawl a little uphill again. Unless I can, enough to work a little, I hope my life may be very short, for to lie on a sofa all day and do nothing but give trouble to the best and kindest of wives and good dear children is dreadful."

The minor works in this year were a short paper in the 'Natural History Review' (N.S. vol. iii. page 115), entitled "On the so-called 'Auditory- Sac' of Cirripedes," and one in the 'Geological Society's Journal' (vol. xix), on the "Thickness of the Pampaean Formation near Buenos Ayres." The paper on Cirripedes was called forth by the criticisms of a German naturalist Krohn (Krohn stated that the structures described by my father as ovaries were in reality salivary glands, also that the oviduct runs down to the orifice described in the 'Monograph of the Cirripedia' as the auditory meatus.), and is of some interest in illustration of my father's readiness to admit an error.

With regard to the spread of a belief in Evolution, it could not yet be said that the battle was won, but the growth of belief was undoubtedly rapid. So that, for instance, Charles Kingsley could write to F.D. Maurice (Kingsley's 'Life,' ii, page 171.):

"The state of the scientific mind is most curious; Darwin is conquering everywhere, and rushing in like a flood, by the mere force of truth and fact."
Mr. Huxley was as usual active in guiding and stimulating the growing tendency to tolerate or accept the views set forth in the 'Origin of Species.' He gave a series of lectures to working men at the School of Mines in November, 1862. These were printed in 1863 from the shorthand notes of Mr. May, as six little blue books, price 4 pence each, under the title, 'Our Knowledge of the Causes of Organic Nature.' When published they were read with interest by my father, who thus refers to them in a letter to Sir J.D. Hooker:--

"I am very glad you like Huxley's lectures. I have been very much struck with them, especially with the 'Philosophy of Induction.' I have quarrelled with him for overdoing sterility and ignoring cases from Gartner and Kolreuter about sterile varieties. His Geology is obscure; and I rather doubt about man's mind and language. But it seems to me ADMIRABLY done, and, as you say, "Oh my," about the praise of the 'Origin.' I can't help liking it, which makes me rather ashamed of myself."

My father admired the clearness of exposition shown in the lectures, and in the following letter urges their author to make use of his powers for the advantage of students:]


CHARLES DARWIN TO T.H. HUXLEY. November 5 [1864].

I want to make a suggestion to you, but which may probably have occurred to you. -- was reading your Lectures and ended by saying, "I wish he would write a book." I answered, "he has just written a great book on the skull." "I don't call that a book," she replied, and added, "I want something that people can read; he does write so well." Now, with your ease in writing, and with knowledge at your fingers' ends, do you not think you could write a popular Treatise on Zoology? Of course it would be some waste of time, but I have been asked more than a dozen times to recommend something for a beginner and could only think of Carpenter's Zoology. I am sure that a striking Treatise would do real service to science by educating naturalists. If you were to keep a portfolio open for a couple of years, and throw in slips of paper as subjects crossed your mind, you would soon have a skeleton (and that seems to me the difficulty) on which to put the flesh and colours in your inimitable manner. I believe such a book might have a brilliant success, but I did not intend to scribble so much about it.

Give my kindest remembrance to Mrs. Huxley, and tell her I was looking at 'Enoch Arden,' and as I know how she admires Tennyson, I must call her attention to two sweetly pretty lines (page 105)...

...and he meant, he said he meant,


Perhaps he meant, or partly meant, you well.

Such a gem as this is enough to make me young again, and like poetry with pristine fervour.
My dear Huxley, Yours affectionately, CH. DARWIN.

[In another letter (January 1865) he returns to the above suggestion, though he was in general strongly opposed to men of science giving up to the writing of text-books, or to teaching, the time that might otherwise have been given to original research.

"I knew there was very little chance of your having time to write a popular Treatise on Zoology, but you are about the one man who could do it. At the time I felt it would be almost a sin for you to do it, as it would of course destroy some original work. On the other hand I sometimes think that general and popular treatises are almost as important for the progress of science as original work."

The series of letters will continue the history of the year 1863.]


CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, January 3 [1863].


My dear Hooker,

I am burning with indignation and must exhale...I could not get to sleep till past 3 last night for indignation (It would serve no useful purpose if I were to go into the matter which so strongly roused my father's anger. It was a question of literary dishonesty, in which a friend was the sufferer, but which in no way affected himself.)...

Now for pleasanter subjects; we were all amused at your defence of stamp collecting and collecting generally...But, by Jove, I can hardly stomach a grown man collecting stamps. Who would ever have thought of your collecting Wedgwoodware! but that is wholly different, like engravings or pictures. We are degenerate descendants of old Josiah W., for we have not a bit of pretty ware in the house.

...Notwithstanding the very pleasant reason you give for our not enjoying a holiday, namely, that we have no vices, it is a horrid bore. I have been trying for health's sake to be idle, with no success. What I shall now have to do, will be to erect a tablet in Down Church, "Sacred to the Memory, etc.," and officially die, and then publish books, "by the late Charles Darwin," for I cannot think what has come over me of late; I always suffered from the excitement of talking, but now it has become ludicrous. I talked lately 1 1/2 hours (broken by tea by myself) with my nephew, and I was [ill] half the night. It is a fearful evil for self and family.

Good-night. Ever yours. C. DARWIN.

[The following letter to Sir Julius von Haast (Sir Julius von Haast was a German by birth, but had long been resident in New Zealand. He was, in 1862, Government Geologist to the Province of Canterbury.), is an example of the sympathy which he felt with the spread and growth of science in the colonies. It was a feeling not expressed once only, but was frequently present in his mind, and often found utterance. When we, at Cambridge, had the satisfaction of receiving Sir J. von Haast into our body as a Doctor of Science (July 1886), I had the opportunity of hearing from him of the vivid pleasure which this, and other letters from my father, gave him. It was pleasant to see how strong had been the impression made by my father's warm-hearted sympathy--an impression which seemed, after more than twenty years, to be as fresh as when it was first received:]



Dear Sir,

I thank you most sincerely for sending me your Address and the Geological Report. (Address to the 'Philosophical Institute of Canterbury (N.Z.).' The "Report" is given in "The New Zealand Government Gazette, Province of Canterbury", October 1862.) I have seldom in my life read anything more spirited and interesting than your address. The progress of your colony makes one proud, and it is really admirable to see a scientific institution founded in so young a nation. I thank you for the very honourable notice of my 'Origin of Species.' You will easily believe how much I have been interested by your striking facts on the old glacial period, and I suppose the world might be searched in vain for so grand a display of terraces. You have, indeed, a noble field for scientific research and discovery. I have been extremely much interested by what you say about the tracks of supposed [living] mammalia. Might I ask, if you succeed in discovering what the creatures are, you would have the great kindness to inform me? Perhaps they may turn out something like the Solenhofen bird creature, with its long tail and fingers, with claws to its wings! I may mention that in South America, in completely uninhabited regions, I found spring rat-traps, baited with CHEESE, were very successful in catching the smaller mammals. I would venture to suggest to you to urge on some of the capable members of your institution to observe annually the rate and manner of spreading of European weeds and insects, and especially to observe WHAT NATIVE PLANTS MOST FAIL; this latter point has never been attended to. Do the introduced hive-bees replace any other insect? etc. All such points are, in my opinion, great desiderata in science. What an interesting discovery that of the remains of prehistoric man!

Believe me, dear Sir,
With the most cordial respect and thanks, Yours very faithfully,

CHARLES DARWIN TO CAMILLE DARESTE. (Professor Dareste is a well-known worker in Animal Teratology. He was in 1863 living at Lille, but has since then been called to Paris. My father took a special interest in Dareste's work on the production of monsters, as bearing on the causes of variation.) Down, February 16 [1863].

Dear and respected Sir, I thank you sincerely for your letter and your pamphlet. I had heard (I think in one of M. Quatrefages' books) of your work, and was most anxious to read it, but did not know where to find it. You could not have made me a more valuable present. I have only just returned home, and have not yet read your work; when I do if I wish to ask any questions I will venture to trouble you. Your approbation of my book on Species has gratified me extremely. Several naturalists in England, North America, and Germany, have declared that their opinions on the subject have in some degree been modified, but as far as I know, my book has produced no effect whatever in France, and this makes me the more gratified by your very kind expression of approbation. Pray believe me, dear Sir, with much respect,

Yours faithfully and obliged, CH. DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, February 24 [1863].


My dear Hooker,

I am astonished at your note, I have not seen the "Athenaeum" (In the 'Antiquity of Man,' first edition, page 480, Lyell criticised somewhat severely Owen's account of the difference between the Human and Simian brains. The number of the "Athenaeum" here referred to (1863, page 262) contains a reply by Professor Owen to Lyell's strictures. The surprise expressed by my father was at the revival of a controversy which every one believed to be closed. Prof. Huxley ("Medical Times", October 25, 1862, quoted in 'Man's Place in Nature,' page 117) spoke of the "two years during which this preposterous controversy has dragged its weary length." And this no doubt expressed a very general feeling.) but I have sent for it, and may get it to-morrow; and will then say what I think.

I have read Lyell's book. ['The Antiquity of Man.'] the whole certainty struck me as a compilation, but of the highest class, for when possible the facts have been verified on the spot, making it almost an original work. The Glacial chapters seem to me best, and in parts magnificent. I could hardly judge about Man, as all the gloss of novelty was completely worn off. But certainly the aggregation of the evidence produced a very striking effect on my mind. The chapter comparing language and changes of species, seems most ingenious and interesting. He has shown great skill in picking out salient points in the argument for change of species; but I am deeply disappointed (I do not mean personally) to find that his timidity prevents him giving any judgment...From all my communications with him I must ever think that he has really entirely lost faith in the immutability of species; and yet one of his strongest sentences is nearly as follows: "If it should EVER (The italics are not Lyell's.) be rendered highly probable that species change by variation and natural selection," etc., etc. I had hoped he would have guided the public as far as his own belief went...One thing does please me on this subject, that he seems to appreciate your work. No doubt the public or a part may be induced to think that as he gives to us a larger space than to Lamarck, he must think there is something in our views. When reading the brain chapter, it struck me forcibly that if he had said openly that he believed in change of species, and as a consequence that man was derived from some Quadrumanous animal, it would have been very proper to have discussed by compilation the differences in the most important organ, viz. the brain. As it is, the chapter seems to me to come in rather by the head and shoulders. I do not think (but then I am as prejudiced as Falconer and Huxley, or more so) that it is too severe; it struck me as given with judicial force. It might perhaps be said with truth that he had no business to judge on a subject on which he knows nothing; but compilers must do this to a certain extent. (You know I value and rank high compilers, being one myself!) I have taken you at your word, and scribbled at great length. If I get the "Athenaeum" to-morrow, I will add my impression of Owen's letter.

...The Lyells are coming here on Sunday evening to stay till Wednesday. I dread it, but I must say how much disappointed I am that he has not spoken out on species, still less on man. And the best of the joke is that he thinks he has acted with the courage of a martyr of old. I hope I may have taken an exaggerated view of his timidity, and shall PARTICULARLY be glad of your opinion on this head. (On this subject my father wrote to Sir Joseph Hooker: "Cordial thanks for your deeply interesting letters about Lyell, Owen, and Co. I cannot say how glad I am to hear that I have not been unjust about the species-question towards Lyell. I feared I had been unreasonable.") When I got his book I turned over the pages, and saw he had discussed the subject of species, and said that I thought he would do more to convert the public than all of us, and now (which makes the case worse for me) I must, in common honesty, retract. I wish to Heaven he had said not a word on the subject.


I have read the "Athenaeum". I do not think Lyell will be nearly so much annoyed as you expect. The concluding sentence is no doubt very stinging. No one but a good anatomist could unravel Owen's letter; at least it is quite beyond me.

...Lyell's memory plays him false when he says all anatomists were astonished at Owen's paper ("On the Characters, etc., of the Class Mammalia." 'Linn. Soc. Journal,' ii, 1858.); it was often quoted with approbation. I WELL remember Lyell's admiration at this new classification! (Do not repeat this.) I remember it, because, though I knew nothing whatever about the brain, I felt a conviction that a classification thus founded on a single character would break down, and it seemed to me a great error not to separate more completely the Marsupialia...

What an accursed evil it is that there should be all this quarrelling within, what ought to be, the peaceful realms of science. I will go to my own present subject of inheritance and forget it all for a time. Farewell, my dear old friend,


CHARLES DARWIN TO ASA GRAY. Down, February 23 [1863].
...If you have time to read you will be interested by parts of Lyell's book on man; but I fear that the best part, about the Glacial period, may be too geological for any one except a regular geologist. He quotes you at the end with gusto. By the way, he told me the other day how pleased some had been by hearing that they could purchase your pamphlet. The "Parthenon" also speaks of it as the ablest contribution to the literature of the subject. It delights me when I see your work appreciated.

The Lyells come here this day week, and I shall grumble at his excessive caution...The public may well say, if such a man dare not or will not speak out his mind, how can we who are ignorant form even a guess on the subject? Lyell was pleased when I told him lately that you thought that language might be used as an excellent illustration of derivation of species; you will see that he has an ADMIRABLE chapter on this...

I read Cairns's excellent Lecture (Prof. J.E. Cairns, 'The Slave Power, etc.: an attempt to explain the real issues involved in the American contest.' 1862.), which shows so well how your quarrel arose from Slavery. It made me for a time wish honestly for the North; but I could never help, though I tried, all the time thinking how we should be bullied and forced into a war by you, when you were triumphant. But I do most truly think it dreadful that the South, with its accursed slavery, should triumph, and spread the evil. I think if I had power, which thank God, I have not, I would let you conquer the border States, and all west of the Mississippi, and then force you to acknowledge the cotton States. For do you not now begin to doubt whether you can conquer and hold them? I have inflicted a long tirade on you.

"The Times" is getting more detestable (but that is too weak a word) than ever. My good wife wishes to give it up, but I tell her that is a pitch of heroism to which only a woman is equal. To give up the "Bloody Old 'Times'," as Cobbett used to call it, would be to give up meat, drink and air. Farewell, my dear Gray,

Yours most truly, C. DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, March 6, [1863].

...I have been of course deeply interested by your book. ('Antiquity of Man.') I have hardly any remarks worth sending, but will scribble a little on what most interested me. But I will first get out what I hate saying, viz., that I have been greatly disappointed that you have not given judgment and spoken fairly out what you think about the derivation of species. I should have been contented if you had boldly said that species have not been separately created, and had thrown as much doubt as you like on how far variation and natural selection suffices. I hope to Heaven I am wrong (and from what you say about Whewell it seems so), but I cannot see how your chapters can do more good than an extraordinary able review. I think the "Parthenon" is right, that you will leave the public in a fog. No doubt they may infer that as you give more space to myself, Wallace, and Hooker, than to Lamarck, you think more of us. But I had always thought that your judgment would have been an epoch in the subject. All that is over with me, and I will only think on the admirable skill with which you have selected the striking points, and explained them. No praise can be too strong, in my opinion, for the inimitable chapter on language in comparison with species.

(After speculating on the sudden appearance of individuals far above the average of the human race, Lyell asks if such leaps upwards in the scale of intellect may not "have cleared at one bound the space which separated the higher stage of the unprogressive intelligence of the inferior animals from the first and lowest form of improvable reason manifested by man.") page 505--A sentence at the top of the page makes me groan...

I know you will forgive me for writing with perfect freedom, for you must know how deeply I respect you as my old honoured guide and master. I heartily hope and expect that your book will have gigantic circulation and may do in many ways as much good as it ought to do. I am tired, so no more. I have written so briefly that you will have to guess my meaning. I fear my remarks are hardly worth sending. Farewell, with kindest remembrance to Lady Lyell.

Ever yours, C. DARWIN.

[Mr. Huxley has quoted (vol. i. page 546) some passages from Lyell's letters which show his state of mind at this time. The following passage, from a letter of March 11th to my father, is also of much interest:--

"My feelings, however, more than any thought about policy or expediency, prevent me from dogmatising as to the descent of man from the brutes, which, though I am prepared to accept it, takes away much of the charm from my speculations on the past relating to such matters...But you ought to be satisfied, as I shall bring hundreds towards you who, if I treated the matter more dogmatically, would have rebelled."]

CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, 12 [March, 1863].


My dear Lyell,

I thank you for your very interesting and kind, I may say, charming letter. I feared you might be huffed for a little time with me. I know some men would have been so. I have hardly any more criticisms, anyhow, worth writing. But I may mention that I felt a little surprise that old B. de Perthes (1788-1868. See footnote below.) was not rather more honourably mentioned. I would suggest whether you could not leave out some references to the 'Principles;' one for the real student is as good as a hundred, and it is rather irritating, and gives a feeling of incompleteness to the general reader to be often referred to other books. As you say that you have gone as far as you believe on the species question, I have not a word to say; but I must feel convinced that at times, judging from conversation, expressions, letters, etc., you have as completely given up belief in immutability of specific forms as I have done. I must still think a clear expression from you, IF YOU COULD HAVE GIVEN IT, would have been potent with the public, and all the more so, as you formerly held opposite opinions. The more I work the more satisfied I become with variation and natural selection, but that part of the case I look at as less important, though more interesting to me personally. As you ask for criticisms on this head (and believe me that I should not have made them unasked), I may specify (pages 412, 413) that such words as "Mr. D. labours to show," "is believed by the author to throw light," would lead a common reader to think that you yourself do NOT at all agree, but merely think it fair to give my opinion. Lastly, you refer repeatedly to my view as a modification of Lamarck's doctrine of development and progression. If this is your deliberate opinion there is nothing to be said, but it does not seem so to me. Plato, Buffon, my grandfather before Lamarck, and others, propounded the OBVIOUS views that if species were not created separately they must have descended from other species, and I can see nothing else in common between the 'Origin' and Lamarck. I believe this way of putting the case is very injurious to its acceptance, as it implies necessary progression, and closely connects Wallace's and my views with what I consider, after two deliberate readings, as a wretched book, and one from which (I well remember my surprise) I gained nothing. But I know you rank it higher, which is curious, as it did not in the least shake your belief. But enough, and more than enough. Please remember you have brought it all down on yourself!!!

I am very sorry to hear about Falconer's "reclamation." ("Falconer, whom I referred to oftener than to any other author, says I have not done justice to the part he took in resuscitating the cave question, and says he shall come out with a separate paper to prove it. I offered to alter anything in the new edition, but this he declined.--C. Lyell to C. Darwin, March 11, 1863; Lyell's 'Life,' vol. ii. page 364.) I hate the very word, and have a sincere affection for him.

Did you ever read anything so wretched as the "Athenaeum" reviews of you, and of Huxley ('Man's Place in Nature,' 1863.) especially. Your OBJECT to make man old, and Huxley's OBJECT to degrade him. The wretched writer has not a glimpse what the discovery of scientific truth means. How splendid some pages are in Huxley, but I fear the book will not be popular...

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down [March 13, 1863].

I should have thanked you sooner for the "Athenaeum" and very pleasant previous note, but I have been busy, and not a little uncomfortable from frequent uneasy feeling of fullness, slight pain and tickling about the heart. But as I have no other symptoms of heart complaint I do not suppose it is affected...I have had a most kind and delightfully candid letter from Lyell, who says he spoke out as far as he believes. I have no doubt his belief failed him as he wrote, for I feel sure that at times he no more believed in Creation than you or I. I have grumbled a bit in my answer to him at his ALWAYS classing my work as a modification of Lamarck's, which it is no more than any author who did not believe in immutability of species, and did believe in descent. I am very sorry to hear from Lyell that Falconer is going to publish a formal reclamation of his own claims... It is cruel to think of it, but we must go to Malvern in the middle of April; it is ruin to me. (He went to Hartfield in Sussex, on April 27, and to Malvern in the autumn.)...

CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, March 17 [1863].


My dear Lyell,

I have been much interested by your letters and enclosure, and thank you sincerely for giving me so much time when you must be so busy. What a curious letter from B. de P. [Boucher de Perthes]. He seems perfectly satisfied, and must be a very amiable man. I know something about his errors, and looked at his book many years ago, and am ashamed to think that I concluded the whole was rubbish! Yet he has done for man something like what Agassiz did for glaciers. (In his 'Antiquites Celtiques' (1847), Boucher de Perthes described the flint tools found at Abbeville with bones of rhinoceros, hyaena, etc. "But the scientific world had no faith in the statement that works of art, however rude, had been met with in undisturbed beds of such antiquity." ('Antiquity of Man,' first edition, page 95).)

I cannot say that I agree with Hooker about the public not liking to be told what to conclude, IF COMING FROM ONE IN YOUR POSITION. But I am heartily sorry that I was led to make complaints, or something very like complaints, on the manner in which you have treated the subject, and still more so anything about myself. I steadily ENDEAVOUR never to forget my firm belief that no one can at all judge about his own work. As for Lamarck, as you have such a man as Grove with you, you are triumphant; not that I can alter my opinion that to me it was an absolutely useless book. Perhaps this was owing to my always searching books for facts, perhaps from knowing my grandfather's earlier and identically the same speculation. I will only further say that if I can analyse my own feelings (a very doubtful process), it is nearly as much for your sake as for my own, that I so much wish that your state of belief could have permitted you to say boldly and distinctly out that species were not separately created. I have generally told you the progress of opinion, as I have heard it, on the species question. A first-rate German naturalist (No doubt Haeckel, whose monograph on the Radiolaria was published in 1862. In the same year Professor W. Preyer of Jena published a dissertation on Alca impennis, which was one of the earliest pieces of special work on the basis of the 'Origin of Species.') (I now forget the name!), who has lately published a grand folio, has spoken out to the utmost extent on the 'Origin.' De Candolle, in a very good paper on "Oaks," goes, in Asa Gray's opinion, as far as he himself does; but De Candolle, in writing to me, says WE, "we think this and that;" so that I infer he really goes to the full extent with me, and tells me of a French good botanical palaeontologist (name forgotten) (The Marquis de Saporta.), who writes to De Candolle that he is sure that my views will ultimately prevail. But I did not intend to have written all this. It satisfies me with the final results, but this result, I begin to see, will take two or three lifetimes. The entomologists are enough to keep the subject back for half a century. I really pity your having to balance the claims of so many eager aspirants for notice; it is clearly impossible to satisfy all...Certainly I was struck with the full and due honour you conferred on Falconer. I have just had a note from Hooker...I am heartily glad that you have made him so conspicuous; he is so honest, so candid, and so modest...

I have read --. I could find nothing to lay hold of, which in one sense I am very glad of, as I should hate a controversy; but in another sense I am very sorry for, as I long to be in the same boat with all my friends...I am heartily glad the book is going off so well.

Ever yours, C. DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down [March 29, 1863].

...Many thanks for "Athenaeum", received this morning, and to be returned to-morrow morning. Who would have ever thought of the old stupid "Athenaeum" taking to Okenlike transcendental philosophy written in Owenian style! (This refers to a review of Dr. Carpenter's 'Introduction to the study of Foraminifera,' that appeared in the "Athenaeum" of March 28, 1863 (page 417). The reviewer attacks Dr. Carpenter's views in as much as they support the doctrine of Descent; and he upholds spontaneous generation (Heterogeny) in place of what Dr. Carpenter, naturally enough, believed in, viz. the genetic connection of living and extinct Foraminifera. In the next number is a letter by Dr. Carpenter, which chiefly consists of a protest against the reviewer's somewhat contemptuous classification of Dr. Carpenter and my father as disciple and master. In the course of the letter Dr. Carpenter says--page 461:--

"Under the influence of his foregone conclusion that I have accepted Mr. Darwin as my master, and his hypothesis as my guide, your reviewer represents me as blind to the significance of the general fact stated by me, that 'there has been no advance in the foraminiferous type from the palaeozoic period to the present time.' But for such a foregone conclusion he would have recognised in this statement the expression of my conviction that the present state of scientific evidence, instead of sanctioning the idea that the descendants of the primitive type or types of Foraminifera can ever rise to any higher grade, justifies the ANTI-DARWINIAN influence, that however widely they diverge from each other and from their originals, THEY STILL REMAIN FORAMINIFERA.")...It will be some time before we see "slime, protoplasm, etc.," generating a new animal. (On the same subject my father wrote in 1871: "It is often said that all the conditions for the first production of a living organism are now present, which could ever have been present. But if (and oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc., present, that a proteine compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed.") But I have long regretted that I truckled to public opinion, and used the Pentateuchal term of creation (This refers to a passage in which the reviewer of Dr. Carpenter's books speaks of "an operation of force," or "a concurrence of forces which have now no place in nature," as being, "a creative force, in fact, which Darwin could only express in Pentateuchal terms as the primordial form 'into which life was first breathed.'" The conception of expressing a creative force as a primordial form is the Reviewer's.), by which I really meant "appeared" by some wholly unknown process. It is mere rubbish, thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter.

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, Friday night [April 17, 1863].


My dear Hooker,

I have heard from Oliver that you will be now at Kew, and so I am going to amuse myself by scribbling a bit. I hope you have thoroughly enjoyed your tour. I never in my life saw anything like the spring flowers this year. What a lot of interesting things have been lately published. I liked extremely your review of De Candolle. What an awfully severe article that by Falconer on Lyell ("Athenaeum", April 4, 1863, page 459. The writer asserts that justice has not been done either to himself or Mr. Prestwich-- that Lyell has not made it clear that it was their original work which supplied certain material for the 'Antiquity of Man.' Falconer attempts to draw an unjust distinction between a "philosopher" (here used as a polite word for compiler) like Sir Charles Lyell, and original observers, presumably such as himself, and Mr. Prestwich. Lyell's reply was published in the "Athenaeum", April 18, 1863. It ought to be mentioned that a letter from Mr. Prestwich ("Athenaeum", page 555), which formed part of the controversy, though of the nature of a reclamation, was written in a very different spirit and tone from Dr. Falconer's.); I am very sorry for it; I think Falconer on his side does not do justice to old Perthes and Schmerling...I shall be very curious to see how he [Lyell] answers it to- morrow. (I have been compelled to take in the "Athenaeum" for a while.) I am very sorry that Falconer should have written so spitefully, even if there is some truth in his accusations; I was rather disappointed in Carpenter's letter, no one could have given a better answer, but the chief object of his letter seems to me to be to show that though he has touched pitch he is not defiled. No one would suppose he went so far as to believe all birds came from one progenitor. I have written a letter to the "Athenaeum" ("Athenaeum", 1863, page 554: "The view given by me on the origin or derivation of species, whatever its weaknesses may be, connects (as has been candidly admitted by some of its opponents, such as Pictet, Bronn, etc.), by an intelligible thread of reasoning, a multitude of facts: such as the formation of domestic races by man's selection,--the classification and affinities of all organic beings,--the innumerable gradations in structure and instincts,--the similarity of pattern in the hand, wing, or paddle of animals of the same great class,--the existence of organs become rudimentary by disuse,--the similarity of an embryonic reptile, bird, and mammal, with the retention of traces of an apparatus fitted for aquatic respiration; the retention in the young calf of incisor teeth in the upper jaw, etc.--the distribution of animals and plants, and their mutual affinities within the same region,--their general geological succession, and the close relationship of the fossils in closely consecutive formations and within the same country; extinct marsupials having preceded living marsupials in Australia, and armadillo-like animals having preceded and generated armadilloes in South America,--and many other phenomena, such as the gradual extinction of old forms and their gradual replacement by new forms better fitted for their new conditions in the struggle for life. When the advocate of Heterogeny can thus connect large classes of facts, and not until then, he will have respectful and patient listeners.") (the first and last time I shall take such a step) to say, under the cloak of attacking Heterogeny, a word in my own defence. My letter is to appear next week, so the Editor says; and I mean to quote Lyell's sentence (See the next letter.) in his second edition, on the principle if one puffs oneself, one had better puff handsomely...

CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, April 18 [1863].


My dear Lyell,

I was really quite sorry that you had sent me a second copy (The second edition of the 'Antiquity of Man' was published a few months after the first had appeared.) of your valuable book. But after a few hours my sorrow vanished for this reason: I have written a letter to the "Athenaeum", in order, under the cloak of attacking the monstrous article on Heterogeny, to say a word for myself in answer to Carpenter, and now I have inserted a few sentences in allusion to your analogous objection (Lyell objected that the mammalia (e.g. bats and seals) which alone have been able to reach oceanic islands ought to have become modified into various terrestrial forms fitted to fill various places in their new home. My father pointed out in the "Athenaeum" that Sir Charles has in some measure answered his own objection, and went on to quote the "amended sentence" ('Antiquity of Man,' 2nd Edition page 469) as showing how far Lyell agreed with the general doctrines of the "Origin of Species': "Yet we ought by no means to undervalue the importance of the step which will have been made, should it hereafter become the generally received opinion of men of science (as I fully expect it will) that the past changes of the organic world have been brought about by the subordinate agency of such causes as Variation and Natural Selection." In the first edition the words (as I fully expect it will," do not occur.) about bats on islands, and then with infinite slyness have quoted your amended sentence, with your parenthesis ("as I fully believe") (My father here quotes Lyell incorrectly; see the previous foot-note.); I do not think you can be annoyed at my doing this, and you see, that I am determined as far as I can, that the public shall see how far you go. This is the first time I have ever said a word for myself in any journal, and it shall, I think, be the last. My letter is short, and no great things. I was extremely concerned to see Falconer's disrespectful and virulent letter. I like extremely your answer just read; you take a lofty and dignified position, to which you are so well entitled. (In a letter to Sir J.D. Hooker he wrote: "I much like Lyell's letter. But all this squabbling will greatly sink scientific men. I have seen sneers already in the 'Times'.")

I suspect that if you had inserted a few more superlatives in speaking of the several authors there would have been none of this horrid noise. No one, I am sure, who knows you could doubt about your hearty sympathy with every one who makes any little advance in science. I still well remember my surprise at the manner in which you listened to me in Hart Street on my return from the "Beagle's" voyage. You did me a world of good. It is horridly vexatious that so frank and apparently amiable a man as Falconer should have behaved so. (It is to this affair that the extract from a letter to Falconer, given in volume i., refers.) Well it will all soon be forgotten...
[In reply to the above-mentioned letter of my father's to the "Athenaeum", an article appeared in that Journal (May 2nd, 1863, page 586), accusing my father of claiming for his views the exclusive merit of "connecting by an intelligible thread of reasoning" a number of facts in morphology, etc. The writer remarks that, "The different generalizations cited by Mr. Darwin as being connected by an intelligible thread of reasoning exclusively through his attempt to explain specific transmutation are in fact related to it in this wise, that they have prepared the minds of naturalists for a better reception of such attempts to explain the way of the origin of species from species."

To this my father replied in the "Athenaeum" of May 9th, 1863:]


Down, May 5 [1863].

I hope that you will grant me space to own that your reviewer is quite correct when he states that any theory of descent will connect, "by an intelligible thread of reasoning," the several generalizations before specified. I ought to have made this admission expressly; with the reservation, however, that, as far as I can judge, no theory so well explains or connects these several generalizations (more especially the formation of domestic races in comparison with natural species, the principles of classification, embryonic resemblance, etc.) as the theory, or hypothesis, or guess, if the reviewer so likes to call it, of Natural Selection. Nor has any other satisfactory explanation been ever offered of the almost perfect adaptation of all organic beings to each other, and to their physical conditions of life. Whether the naturalist believes in the views given by Lamarck, by Geoffrey St. Hilaire, by the author of the 'Vestiges,' by Mr. Wallace and myself, or in any other such view, signifies extremely little in comparison with the admission that species have descended from other species, and have not been created immutable; for he who admits this as a great truth has a wide field opened to him for further inquiry. I believe, however, from what I see of the progress of opinion on the Continent, and in this country, that the theory of Natural Selection will ultimately be adopted, with, no doubt, many subordinate modifications and improvements.



[In the following, he refers to the above letter to the "Athenaeum:]

Saturday [May 11, 1863].

My dear Hooker,

You give good advice about not writing in newspapers; I have been gnashing my teeth at my own folly; and this not caused by --'s sneers, which were so good that I almost enjoyed them. I have written once again to own to a certain extent of truth in what he says, and then if I am ever such a fool again, have no mercy on me. I have read the squib in "Public Opinion" ("Public Opinion", April 23, 1863. A lively account of a police case, in which the quarrels of scientific men are satirised. Mr. John Bull gives evidence that-- "The whole neighbourhood was unsettled by their disputes; Huxley quarrelled with Owen, Owen with Darwin, Lyell with Owen, Falconer and Prestwich with Lyell, and Gray the menagerie man with everybody. He had pleasure, however, in stating that Darwin was the quietest of the set. They were always picking bones with each other and fighting over their gains. If either of the gravel sifters or stone breakers found anything, he was obliged to conceal it immediately, or one of the old bone collectors would be sure to appropriate it first and deny the theft afterwards, and the consequent wrangling and disputes were as endless as they were wearisome.

"Lord Mayor.--Probably the clergyman of the parish might exert some influence over them?

"The gentleman smiled, shook his head, and stated that he regretted to say that no class of men paid so little attention to the opinions of the clergy as that to which these unhappy men belonged."); it is capital; if there is more, and you have a copy, do lend it. It shows well that a scientific man had better be trampled in dirt than squabble. I have been drawing diagrams, dissecting shoots, and muddling my brains to a hopeless degree about the divergence of leaves, and have of course utterly failed. But I can see that the subject is most curious, and indeed astonishing...

[The next letter refers to Mr. Bentham's presidential address to the Linnean Society (May 25, 1863). Mr. Bentham does not yield to the new theory of Evolution, "cannot surrender at discretion as long as many important outworks remain contestable." But he shows that the great body of scientific opinion is flowing in the direction of belief.

The mention of Pasteur by Mr. Bentham is in reference to the promulgation "as it were ex cathedra," of a theory of spontaneous generation by the reviewer of Dr. Carpenter in the "Athenaeum" (March 28, 1863). Mr. Bentham points out that in ignoring Pasteur's refutation of the supposed facts of spontaneous generation, the writer fails to act with "that impartiality which every reviewer is supposed to possess."]

CHARLES DARWIN TO G. BENTHAM. Down, May 22 [1863].


My dear Bentham,

I am much obliged for your kind and interesting letter. I have no fear of anything that a man like you will say annoying me in the very least degree. On the other hand, any approval from one whose judgment and knowledge I have for many years so sincerely respected, will gratify me much. The objection which you well put, of certain forms remaining unaltered through long time and space, is no doubt formidable in appearance, and to a certain extent in reality according to my judgment. But does not the difficulty rest much on our silently assuming that we know more than we do? I have literally found nothing so difficult as to try and always remember our ignorance. I am never weary, when walking in any new adjoining district or country, of reflecting how absolutely ignorant we are why certain old plants are not there present, and other new ones are, and others in different proportions. If we once fully feel this, then in judging the theory of Natural Selection, which implies that a form will remain unaltered unless some alteration be to its benefit, is it so very wonderful that some forms should change much slower and much less, and some few should have changed not at all under conditions which to us (who really know nothing what are the important conditions) seem very different. Certainly a priori we might have anticipated that all the plants anciently introduced into Australia would have undergone some modification; but the fact that they have not been modified does not seem to me a difficulty of weight enough to shake a belief grounded on other arguments. I have expressed myself miserably, but I am far from well to-day.

I am very glad that you are going to allude to Pasteur; I was struck with infinite admiration at his work. With cordial thanks, believe me, dear Bentham,


Yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN.

P.S.--In fact, the belief in Natural Selection must at present be grounded entirely on general considerations. (1) On its being a vera causa, from the struggle for existence; and the certain geological fact that species do somehow change. (2) From the analogy of change under domestication by man's selection. (3) And chiefly from this view connecting under an intelligible point of view a host of facts. When we descend to details, we can prove that no one species has changed [i.e. we cannot prove that a single species has changed]; nor can we prove that the supposed changes are beneficial, which is the groundwork of the theory. Nor can we explain why some species have changed and others have not. The latter case seems to me hardly more difficult to understand precisely and in detail than the former case of supposed change. Bronn may ask in vain, the old creationist school and the new school, why one mouse has longer ears than another mouse, and one plant more pointed leaves than another plant.

CHARLES DARWIN TO G. BENTHAM. Down, June 19 [1863].


My dear Bentham,

I have been extremely much pleased and interested by your address, which you kindly sent me. It seems to be excellently done, with as much judicial calmness and impartiality as the Lord Chancellor could have shown. But whether the "immutable" gentlemen would agree with the impartiality may be doubted, there is too much kindness shown towards me, Hooker, and others, they might say. Moreover I verily believe that your address, written as it is, will do more to shake the unshaken and bring on those leaning to our side, than anything written directly in favour of transmutation. I can hardly tell why it is, but your address has pleased me as much as Lyell's book disappointed me, that is, the part on species, though so cleverly written. I agree with all your remarks on the reviewers. By the way, Lecoq (Author of 'Geographie Botanique.' 9 vols. 1854-58.) is a believer in the change of species. I, for one, can conscientiously declare that I never feel surprised at any one sticking to the belief of immutability; though I am often not a little surprised at the arguments advanced on this side. I remember too well my endless oscillations of doubt and difficulty. It is to me really laughable when I think of the years which elapsed before I saw what I believe to be the explanation of some parts of the case; I believe it was fifteen years after I began before I saw the meaning and cause of the divergence of the descendants of any one pair. You pay me some most elegant and pleasing compliments. There is much in your address which has pleased me much, especially your remarks on various naturalists. I am so glad that you have alluded so honourably to Pasteur. I have just read over this note; it does not express strongly enough the interest which I have felt in reading your address. You have done, I believe, a real good turn to the RIGHT SIDE. Believe me, dear Bentham,

Yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN.



[In my father's diary for 1864 is the entry, "Ill all January, February, March." About the middle of April (seven months after the beginning of the illness in the previous autumn) his health took a turn for the better. As soon as he was able to do any work, he began to write his papers on Lythrum, and on Climbing Plants, so that the work which now concerns us did not begin until September, when he again set to work on 'Animals and Plants.' A letter to Sir J.D. Hooker gives some account of the re- commencement of the work: "I have begun looking over my old MS., and it is as fresh as if I had never written it; parts are astonishingly dull, but yet worth printing, I think; and other parts strike me as very good. I am a complete millionaire in odd and curious little facts, and I have been really astounded at my own industry whilst reading my chapters on Inheritance and Selection. God knows when the book will ever be completed, for I find that I am very weak and on my best days cannot do more than one or one and a half hours' work. It is a good deal harder than writing about my dear climbing plants."

In this year he received the greatest honour which a scientific man can receive in this country--the Copley Medal of the Royal Society. It is presented at the Anniversary Meeting on St. Andrew's Day (November 30), the medalist being usually present to receive it, but this the state of my father's health prevented. He wrote to Mr. Fox on this subject:--

"I was glad to see your hand-writing. The Copley, being open to all sciences and all the world, is reckoned a great honour; but excepting from several kind letters, such things make little difference to me. It shows, however, that Natural Selection is making some progress in this country, and that pleases me. The subject, however, is safe in foreign lands."

To Sir J.D. Hooker, also, he wrote:--

"How kind you have been about this medal; indeed, I am blessed with many good friends, and I have received four or five notes which have warmed my heart. I often wonder that so old a worn-out dog as I am is not quite forgotten. Talking of medals, has Falconer had the Royal? he surely ought to have it, as ought John Lubbock. By the way, the latter tells me that some old members of the Royal are quite shocked at my having the Copley. Do you know who?"

He wrote to Mr. Huxley:--

"I must and will answer you, for it is a real pleasure for me to thank you cordially for your note. Such notes as this of yours, and a few others, are the real medal to me, and not the round bit of gold. These have given me a pleasure which will long endure; so believe in my cordial thanks for your note."

Sir Charles Lyell, writing to my father in November 1864 ('Life,' vol. ii. page 384), speaks of the supposed malcontents as being afraid to crown anything so unorthodox as the 'Origin.' But he adds that if such were their feelings "they had the good sense to draw in their horns." It appears, however, from the same letter, that the proposal to give the Copley Medal to my father in the previous year failed owing to a similar want of courage--to Lyell's great indignation.

In the "Reader", December 3, 1864, General Sabine's presidential address at the Anniversary Meeting is reported at some length. Special weight was laid on my father's work in Geology, Zoology, and Botany, but the 'Origin of Species' is praised chiefly as containing "a mass of observations," etc. It is curious that as in the case of his election to the French Institution, so in this case, he was honoured not for the great work of his life, but for his less important work in special lines. The paragraph in General Sabine's address which refers to the 'Origin of Species,' is as follows:--

"In his most recent work 'On the Origin of Species,' although opinions may be divided or undecided with respect to its merits in some respects, all will allow that it contains a mass of observations bearing upon the habits, structure, affinities, and distribution of animals, perhaps unrivalled for interest, minuteness, and patience of observation. Some amongst us may perhaps incline to accept the theory indicated by the title of this work, while others may perhaps incline to refuse, or at least to remit it to a future time, when increased knowledge shall afford stronger grounds for its ultimate acceptance or rejection. Speaking generally and collectively, we have expressly omitted it from the grounds of our award."

I believe I am right in saying that no little dissatisfaction at the President's manner of allusion to the 'Origin' was felt by some Fellows of the Society.

The presentation of the Copley Medal is of interest in another way, inasmuch as it led to Sir C. Lyell making, in his after-dinner speech, a "confession of faith as to the 'Origin.'" He wrote to my father ('Life,' vol. ii. page 384), "I said I had been forced to give up my old faith without thoroughly seeing my way to a new one. But I think you would have been satisfied with the length I went."]

CHARLES DARWIN TO T.H. HUXLEY. Down, October 3 [1864].


My dear Huxley,

If I do not pour out my admiration of your article ("Criticisms on the Origin of Species," 'Nat. Hist. Review,' 1864. Republished in 'Lay Sermons,' 1870, page 328. The work of Professor Kolliker referred to is 'Ueber die Darwin'sche Schopfungstheorie' (Leipzig, 1864). Toward Professor Kolliker my father felt not only the respect due to so distinguished a naturalist (a sentiment well expressed in Professor Huxley's review), but he had also a personal regard for him, and often alluded with satisfaction to the visit which Professor Kolliker paid at Down.) on Kolliker, I shall explode. I never read anything better done. I had much wished his article answered, and indeed thought of doing so myself, so that I considered several points. You have hit on all, and on some in addition, and oh! by Jove, how well you have done it. As I read on and came to point after point on which I had thought, I could not help jeering and scoffing at myself, to see how infinitely better you had done it than I could have done. Well, if any one, who does not understand Natural Selection, will read this, he will be a blockhead if it is not as clear as daylight. Old Flourens ('Examen du livre de M. Darwin sur l'origine des especes.' Par P. Flourens. 8vo. Paris, 1864.) was hardly worth the powder and shot; but how capitally you bring in about the Academician, and your metaphor of the sea-sand is INIMITABLE.

It is a marvel to me how you can resist becoming a regular reviewer. Well, I have exploded now, and it has done me a deal of good...

[In the same article in the 'Natural History Review,' Mr. Huxley speaks of the book above alluded to by Flourens, the Secretaire Perpetuel of the Academie des Sciences, as one of the two "most elaborate criticisms" of the 'Origin of Species' of the year. He quotes the following passage:--

"M. Darwin continue: 'Aucune distinction absolue n'a ete et ne peut etre entre les especes et les varietes!' Je vous ai deja dit que vous vous trompiez; une distinction absolue separe les varietes d'avec les especes." Mr. Huxley remarks on this, "Being devoid of the blessings of an Academy in England, we are unaccustomed to see our ablest men treated in this way even by a Perpetual Secretary." After demonstrating M. Flourens' misapprehension of Natural Selection, Mr. Huxley says, "How one knows it all by heart, and with what relief one reads at page 65 'Je laisse M. Darwin.'"

On the same subject my father wrote to Mr. Wallace:--

"A great gun, Flourens, has written a little dull book against me which pleases me much, for it is plain that our good work is spreading in France. He speaks of the "engouement" about this book [the 'Origin'] "so full of empty and presumptuous thoughts." The passage here alluded to is as follows:--

"Enfin l'ouvrage de M. Darwin a paru. On ne peut qu'etre frappe du talent de l'auteur. Mais que d'idees obscures, que d'idees fausses! Quel jargon metaphysique jete mal a propos dans l'histoire naturelle, qui tombe dans le galimatias des qu'elle sort des idees claires, des idees justes. Quel langage pretentieux et vide! Quelles personifications pueriles et surannees! O lucidite! O solidite de l'esprit francais, que devenez- vous?"] 1865.

[This was again a time of much ill-health, but towards the close of the year he began to recover under the care of the late Dr. Bence-Jones, who dieted him severely, and as he expressed it, "half-starved him to death." He was able to work at 'Animals and Plants' until nearly the end of April, and from that time until December he did practically no work, with the exception of looking over the 'Origin of Species' for a second French edition. He wrote to Sir J.D. Hooker:--"I am, as it were, reading the 'Origin' for the first time, for I am correcting for a second French edition: and upon my life, my dear fellow, it is a very good book, but oh! my gracious, it is tough reading, and I wish it were done." (Towards the end of the year my father received the news of a new convert to his views, in the person of the distinguished American naturalist Lesquereux. He wrote to Sir J.D. Hooker: "I have had an enormous letter from Leo Lesquereux (after doubts, I did not think it worth sending you) on Coal Flora. He wrote some excellent articles in 'Silliman' against 'Origin' views; but he says now, after repeated reading of the book, he is a convert!")

The following letter refers to the Duke of Argyll's address to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, December 5th, 1864, in which he criticises the 'Origin of Species.' My father seems to have read the Duke's address as reported in the "Scotsman" of December 6th, 1865. In a letter to my father (January 16, 1865, 'Life,' vol. ii. page 385), Lyell wrote, "The address is a great step towards your views--far greater, I believe, than it seems when read merely with reference to criticisms and objections."]

CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, January 22, [1865].


My dear Lyell,

I thank you for your very interesting letter. I have the true English instinctive reverence for rank, and therefore liked to hear about the Princess Royal. ("I animated conversation on Darwinism with the Princess Royal, who is a worthy daughter of her father, in the reading of good books, and thinking of what she reads. She was very much au fait at the 'Origin,' and Huxley's book, the 'Antiquity,' etc."--(Lyell's 'Life,' vol. ii. page 385.) You ask what I think of the Duke's address, and I shall be glad to tell you. It seems to me EXTREMELY clever, like everything I have read of his; but I am not shaken-perhaps you will say that neither gods nor men could shake me. I demur to the Duke reiterating his objection that the brilliant plumage of the male humming-bird could not have been acquired through selection, at the same time entirely ignoring my discussion (page 93, 3rd edition) on beautiful plumage being acquired through SEXUAL selection. The duke may think this insufficient, but that is another question. All analogy makes me quite disagree with the Duke that the difference in the beak, wing and tail, are not of importance to the several species. In the only two species which I have watched, the difference in flight and in the use of the tail was conspicuously great.

The Duke, who knows my Orchid book so well, might have learnt a lesson of caution from it, with respect to his doctrine of differences for mere variety or beauty. It may be confidently said that no tribe of plants presents such grotesque and beautiful differences, which no one until lately, conjectured were of any use; but now in almost every case I have been able to show their important service. It should be remembered that with humming birds or orchids, a modification in one part will cause correlated changes in other parts. I agree with what you say about beauty. I formerly thought a good deal on the subject, and was led quite to repudiate the doctrine of beauty being created for beauty's sake. I demur also to the Duke's expression of "new births." That may be a very good theory, but it is not mine, unless indeed he calls a bird born with a beak 1/100th of an inch longer than usual "a new birth;" but this is not the sense in which the term would usually be understood. The more I work the more I feel convinced that it is by the accumulation of such extremely slight variations that new species arise. I do not plead guilty to the Duke's charge that I forget that natural selection means only the preservation of variations which independently arise. ("Strictly speaking, therefore, Mr. Darwin's theory is not a theory on the Origin of Species at all, but only a theory on the causes which lead to the relative success and failure of such new forms as may be born into the world."--"Scotsman", December 6, 1864.) I have expressed this in as strong language as I could use, but it would have been infinitely tedious had I on every occasion thus guarded myself. I will cry "peccavi" when I hear of the Duke or you attacking breeders for saying that man has made his improved shorthorns, or pouter pigeons, or bantams. And I could quote still stronger expressions used by agriculturists. Man does make his artificial breeds, for his selective power is of such importance relatively to that of the slight spontaneous variations. But no one will attack breeders for using such expressions, and the rising generation will not blame me.

Many thanks for your offer of sending me the 'Elements.' (Sixth edition in one volume.) I hope to read it all, but unfortunately reading makes my head whiz more than anything else. I am able most days to work for two or three hours, and this makes all the difference in my happiness. I have resolved not to be tempted astray, and to publish nothing till my volume on Variation is completed. You gave me excellent advice about the footnotes in my Dog chapter, but their alteration gave me infinite trouble, and I often wished all the dogs, and I fear sometimes you yourself, in the nether regions.

We (dictator and writer) send our best love to Lady Lyell.


Yours affectionately, CHARLES DARWIN.


P.S.--If ever you should speak with the Duke on the subject, please say how much interested I was with his address.

[In his autobiographical sketch my father has remarked that owing to certain early memories he felt the honour of being elected to the Royal and Royal Medical Societies of Edinburgh "more than any similar honour." The following extract from a letter to Sir Joseph Hooker refers to his election to the former of these societies. The latter part of the extract refers to the Berlin Academy, to which he was elected in 1878:-- "Here is a really curious thing, considering that Brewster is President and Balfour Secretary. I have been elected Honorary Member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. And this leads me to a third question. Does the Berlin Academy of Sciences send their Proceedings to Honorary Members? I want to know, to ascertain whether I am a member; I suppose not, for I think it would have made some impression on me; yet I distinctly remember receiving some diploma signed by Ehrenberg. I have been so careless; I have lost several diplomas, and now I want to know what Societies I belong to, as I observe every [one] tacks their titles to their names in the catalogue of the Royal Soc."]

CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, February 21 [1865].


My dear Lyell,


I have taken a long time to thank you very much for your present of the 'Elements.'


I am going through it all, reading what is new, and what I have forgotten, and this is a good deal.

I am simply astonished at the amount of labour, knowledge, and clear thought condensed in this work. The whole strikes me as something quite grand. I have been particularly interested by your account of Heer's work and your discussion on the Atlantic Continent. I am particularly delighted at the view which you take on this subject; for I have long thought Forbes did an ill service in so freely making continents.

I have also been very glad to read your argument on the denudation of the Weald, and your excellent resume on the Purbeck Beds; and this is the point at which I have at present arrived in your book. I cannot say that I am quite convinced that there is no connection beyond that pointed out by you, between glacial action and the formation of lake basins; but you will not much value my opinion on this head, as I have already changed my mind some half-dozen times.

I want to make a suggestion to you. I found the weight of your volume intolerable, especially when lying down, so with great boldness cut it into two pieces, and took it out of its cover; now could not Murray without any other change add to his advertisement a line saying, "if bound in two volumes, one shilling or one shilling and sixpence extra." You thus might originate a change which would be a blessing to all weak-handed readers.

Believe me, my dear Lyell, Yours most sincerely, CHARLES DARWIN.

Originate a second REAL BLESSING and have the edges of the sheets cut like a bound book. (This was a favourite reform of my father's. He wrote to the "Athenaeum" on the subject, February 5, 1867, pointing out how that a book cut, even carefully, with a paper knife collects dust on its edges far more than a machine-cut book. He goes on to quote the case of a lady of his acquaintance who was in the habit of cutting books with her thumb, and finally appeals to the "Athenaeum" to earn the gratitude of children "who have to cut through dry and pictureless books for the benefit of their elders." He tried to introduce the reform in the case of his own books, but found the conservatism of booksellers too strong for him. The presentation copies, however, of all his later books were sent out with the edges cut.)



My dear Lubbock,

The latter half of your book ('Prehistoric Times,' 1865.) has been read aloud to me, and the style is so clear and easy (we both think it perfection) that I am now beginning at the beginning. I cannot resist telling you how excellently well, in my opinion, you have done the very interesting chapter on savage life. Though you have necessarily only compiled the materials the general result is most original. But I ought to keep the term original for your last chapter, which has struck me as an admirable and profound discussion. It has quite delighted me, for now the public will see what kind of man you are, which I am proud to think I discovered a dozen years ago

I do sincerely wish you all success in your election and in politics; but after reading this last chapter, you must let me say: oh, dear! oh, dear! oh dear!


Yours affectionately, CH. DARWIN.

P.S.--You pay me a superb compliment ('Prehistoric Times,' page 487, where the words, "the discoveries of a Newton or a Darwin," occur.), but I fear you will be quizzed for it by some of your friends as too exaggerated.

[The following letter refers to Fritz Muller's book, 'Fur Darwin,' which was afterwards translated, at my father's suggestion, by Mr. Dallas. It is of interest as being the first of the long series of letters which my father wrote to this distinguished naturalist. They never met, but the correspondence with Muller, which continued to the close of my father's life, was a source of very great pleasure to him. My impression is that of all his unseen friends Fritz Muller was the one for whom he had the strongest regard. Fritz Muller is the brother of another distinguished man, the late Hermann Muller, the author of 'Die Befruchtung der Blumen,' and of much other valuable work:]

CHARLES DARWIN TO F. MULLER. Down, August 10 [1865].


My dear Sir,

I have been for a long time so ill that I have only just finished hearing read aloud your work on species. And now you must permit me to thank you cordially for the great interest with which I have read it. You have done admirable service in the cause in which we both believe. Many of your arguments seem to me excellent, and many of your facts wonderful. Of the latter, nothing has surprised me so much as the two forms of males. I have lately investigated the cases of dimorphic plants, and I should much like to send you one or two of my papers if I knew how. I did send lately by post a paper on climbing plants, as an experiment to see whether it would reach you. One of the points which has struck me most in your paper is that on the differences in the air-breathing apparatus of the several forms. This subject appeared to me very important when I formerly considered the electric apparatus of fishes. Your observations on Classification and Embryology seem to me very good and original. They show what a wonderful field there is for enquiry on the development of crustacea, and nothing has convinced me so plainly what admirable results we shall arrive at in Natural History in the course of a few years. What a marvellous range of structure the crustacea present, and how well adapted they are for your enquiry! Until reading your book I knew nothing of the Rhizocephala; pray look at my account and figures of Anelasma, for it seems to me that this latter cirripede is a beautiful connecting link with the Rhizocephala.

If ever you have any opportunity, as you are so skilful a dissector, I much wish that you would look to the orifice at the base of the first pair of cirrhi in cirripedes, and at the curious organ in it, and discover what its nature is; I suppose I was quite in error, yet I cannot feel fully satisfied at Krohn's (See vol. ii., pages 138, 187.) observations. Also if you ever find any species of Scalpellum, pray look for complemental males; a German author has recently doubted my observations for no reason except that the facts appeared to him so strange.

Permit me again to thank you cordially for the pleasure which I have derived from your work and to express my sincere admiration for your valuable researches.

Believe me, dear Sir, with sincere respect, Yours very faithfully,

P.S.--I do not know whether you care at all about plants, but if so, I should much like to send you my little work on the 'Fertilization of Orchids,' and I think I have a German copy.

Could you spare me a photograph of yourself? I should much like to possess one.


CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, Thursday, 27th [September, 1865].


My dear Hooker,

I had intended writing this morning to thank Mrs. Hooker most sincerely for her last and several notes about you, and now your own note in your hand has rejoiced me. To walk between five and six miles is splendid, with a little patience you must soon be well. I knew you had been very ill, but I hardly knew how ill, until yesterday, when Bentham (from the Cranworths (Robert Rolfe, Lord Cranworth, and Lord Chancellor of England, lived at Holwood, near Down.)) called here, and I was able to see him for ten minutes. He told me also a little about the last days of your father (Sir William Hooker; 1785-1865. He took charge of the Royal Gardens at Kew, in 1840, when they ceased to be the private gardens of the Royal Family. In doing so, he gave up his professorship at Glasgow--and with it half of his income. He founded the herbarium and library, and within ten years he succeeded in making the gardens the first in the world. It is, thus, not too much to say that the creation of the establishment at Kew is due to the abilities and self-devotion of Sir William Hooker. While, for the subsequent development of the gardens up to their present magnificent condition, the nation must thank Sir Joseph Hooker, in whom the same qualities are so conspicuous.); I wish I had known your father better, my impression is confined to his remarkably cordial, courteous, and frank bearing. I fully concur and understand what you say about the difference of feeling in the loss of a father and child. I do not think any one could love a father much more than I did mine, and I do not believe three or four days ever pass without my still thinking of him, but his death at eighty- four caused me nothing of that insufferable grief (I may quote here a passage from a letter of November, 1863. It was written to a friend who had lost his child: "How well I remember your feeling, when we lost Annie. It was my greatest comfort that I had never spoken a harsh word to her. Your grief has made me shed a few tears over our poor darling; but believe me that these tears have lost that unutterable bitterness of former days.") which the loss of our poor dear Annie caused. And this seems to me perfectly natural, for one knows for years previously that one's father's death is drawing slowly nearer and nearer, while the death of one's child is a sudden and dreadful wrench. What a wonderful deal you read; it is a horrid evil for me that I can read hardly anything, for it makes my head almost immediately begin to sing violently. My good womenkind read to me a great deal, but I dare not ask for much science, and am not sure that I could stand it. I enjoyed Tylor ('Researches into the Early History of Mankind,' by E.B. Tylor. 1865.) EXTREMELY, and the first part of Lecky 'The Rise of Rationalism in Europe,' by W.E.H. Lecky. 1865.); but I think the latter is often vague, and gives a false appearance of throwing light on his subject by such phrases as "spirit of the age," "spread of civilization," etc. I confine my reading to a quarter or half hour per day in skimming through the back volumes of the Annals and Magazine of Natural History, and find much that interests me. I miss my climbing plants very much, as I could observe them when very poorly.

I did not enjoy the 'Mill on the Floss' so much as you, but from what you say we will read it again. Do you know 'Silas Marner'? it is a charming little story; if you run short, and like to have it, we could send it by post...We have almost finished the first volume of Palgrave (William Gifford Palgrave's 'Travels in Arabia,' published in 1865.), and I like it much; but did you ever see a book so badly arranged? The frequency of the allusions to what will be told in the future are quite laughable...By the way, I was very much pleased with the foot-note (The passage which seems to be referred to occurs in the text (page 479) of 'Prehistoric Times.' It expresses admiration of Mr. Wallace's paper in the 'Anthropological Review' (May, 1864), and speaks of the author's "characteristic unselfishness" in ascribing the theory of Natural Selection "unreservedly to Mr. Darwin." about Wallace in Lubbock's last chapter. I had not heard that Huxley had backed up Lubbock about Parliament...Did you see a sneer some time ago in the "Times" about how incomparably more interesting politics were compared with science even to scientific men? Remember what Trollope says, in 'Can you Forgive her,' about getting into Parliament, as the highest earthly ambition. Jeffrey, in one of his letters, I remember, says that making an effective speech in Parliament is a far grander thing than writing the grandest history. All this seems to me a poor short-sighted view. I cannot tell you how it has rejoiced me once again seeing your handwriting-- my best of old friends.

Yours affectionately, CH. DARWIN.


[In October he wrote Sir J.D. Hooker:--

"Talking of the 'Origin,' a Yankee has called my attention to a paper attached to Dr. Wells's famous 'Essay on Dew,' which was read in 1813 to the Royal Society, but not [then] printed, in which he applies most distinctly the principle of Natural Selection to the Races of Man. So poor old Patrick Matthew is not the first, and he cannot, or ought not, any longer to put on his title-pages, 'Discoverer of the principle of Natural Selection'!"]

CHARLES DARWIN TO F.W. FARRAR. (Canon of Westminster.) Down, November 2 [1865?].


Dear Sir,

As I have never studied the science of language, it may perhaps seem presumptuous, but I cannot resist the pleasure of telling you what interest and pleasure I have derived from hearing read aloud your volume ('Chapters on Language,' 1865.)

I formerly read Max Muller, and thought his theory (if it deserves to be called so) both obscure and weak; and now, after hearing what you say, I feel sure that this is the case, and that your cause will ultimately triumph. My indirect interest in your book has been increased from Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood, whom you often quote, being my brother-inlaw.

No one could dissent from my views on the modification of species with more courtesy than you do. But from the tenor of your mind I feel an entire and comfortable conviction (and which cannot possibly be disturbed) that if your studies led you to attend much to general questions in natural history you would come to the same conclusion that I have done.

Have you ever read Huxley's little book of Lectures? I would gladly send a copy if you think you would read it.

Considering what Geology teaches us, the argument from the supposed immutability of specific types seems to me much the same as if, in a nation which had no old writings, some wise old savage was to say that his language had never changed; but my metaphor is too long to fill up.

Pray believe me, dear Sir, yours very sincerely obliged, C. DARWIN.




[The year 1866 is given in my father's Diary in the following words:--


"Continued correcting chapters of 'Domestic Animals.'


March 1st.--Began on 4th edition of 'Origin' of 1250 copies (received for it 238 pounds), making 7500 copies altogether.


May 10th.--Finished 'Origin,' except revises, and began going over Chapter XIII. of 'Domestic Animals.'


November 21st.--Finished 'Pangenesis.'


December 21st.--Finished re-going over all chapters, and sent them to printers.


December 22nd.--Began concluding chapter of book."


He was in London on two occasions for a week at a time, staying with his brother, and for a few days (May 29th-June 2nd) in Surrey; for the rest of the year he was at Down.

There seems to have been a gradual mending in his health; thus he wrote to Mr. Wallace (January 1866):--"My health is so far improved that I am able to work one or two hours a day."

With respect to the 4th edition he wrote to Sir J.D. Hooker:--

"The new edition of the 'Origin' has caused me two great vexations. I forgot Bates's paper on variation (This appears to refer to "Notes on South American Butterflies," Trans. Entomolog. Soc., vol. v. (N.S.).), but I remembered in time his mimetic work, and now, strange to say, I find I have forgotten your Arctic paper! I know how it arose; I indexed for my bigger work, and never expected that a new edition of the 'Origin' would be wanted.

"I cannot say how all this has vexed me. Everything which I have read during the last four years I find is quite washy in my mind." As far as I know, Mr. Bates's paper was not mentioned in the later editions of the 'Origin,' for what reason I cannot say.

In connection with his work on 'The Variation of Animals and Plants,' I give here extracts from three letters addressed to Mr. Huxley, which are of interest as giving some idea of the development of the theory of 'Pangenesis,' ultimately published in 1868 in the book in question:]

CHARLES DARWIN TO T.H. HUXLEY. Down, May 27, [1865?].
...I write now to ask a favour of you, a very great favour from one so hard worked as you are. It is to read thirty pages of MS., excellently copied out and give me, not lengthened criticism, but your opinion whether I may venture to publish it. You may keep the MS. for a month or two. I would not ask this favour, but I REALLY know no one else whose judgment on the subject would be final with me.

The case stands thus: in my next book I shall publish long chapters on bud- and seminalvariation, on inheritance, reversion, effects of use and disuse, etc. I have also for many years speculated on the different forms of reproduction. Hence it has come to be a passion with me to try to connect all such facts by some sort of hypothesis. The MS. which I wish to send you gives such a hypothesis; it is a very rash and crude hypothesis, yet it has been a considerable relief to my mind, and I can hang on it a good many groups of facts. I well know that a mere hypothesis, and this is nothing more, is of little value; but it is very useful to me as serving as a kind of summary for certain chapters. Now I earnestly wish for your verdict given briefly as, "Burn it"--or, which is the most favourable verdict I can hope for, "It does rudely connect together certain facts, and I do not think it will immediately pass out of my mind." If you can say this much, and you do not think it absolutely ridiculous, I shall publish it in my concluding chapter. Now will you grant me this favour? You must refuse if you are too much overworked.

I must say for myself that I am a hero to expose my hypothesis to the fiery ordeal of your criticism.


July 12, [1865?].


My dear Huxley,

I thank you most sincerely for having so carefully considered my MS. It has been a real act of kindness. It would have annoyed me extremely to have re-published Buffon's views, which I did not know of, but I will get the book; and if I have strength I will also read Bonnet. I do not doubt your judgment is perfectly just, and I will try to persuade myself not to publish. The whole affair is much too speculative; yet I think some such view will have to be adopted, when I call to mind such facts as the inherited effects of use and disuse, etc. But I will try to be cautious...



My dear Huxley,

Forgive my writing in pencil, as I can do so lying down. I have read Buffon: whole pages are laughably like mine. It is surprising how candid it makes one to see one's views in another man's words. I am rather ashamed of the whole affair, but not converted to a nobelief. What a kindness you have done me with your "vulpine sharpness." Nevertheless, there is a fundamental distinction between Buffon's views and mine. He does not suppose that each cell or atom of tissue throws off a little bud; but he supposes that the sap or blood includes his "organic molecules," WHICH ARE READY FORMED, fit to nourish each organ, and when this is fully formed, they collect to form buds and the sexual elements. It is all rubbish to speculate as I have done; yet, if I ever have strength to publish my next book, I fear I shall not resist "Pangenesis," but I assure you I will put it humbly enough. The ordinary course of development of beings, such as the Echinodermata, in which new organs are formed at quite remote spots from the analogous previous parts, seem to me extremely difficult to reconcile on any view except the free diffusion in the parent of the germs or gemmules of each separate new organ; and so in cases of alternate generation. But I will not scribble any more. Hearty thanks to you, you best of critics and most learned man...

[The letters now take up the history of the year 1866.]


CHARLES DARWIN TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, July 5 [1866].


My dear Wallace,

I have been much interested by your letter, which is as clear as daylight. I fully agree with all that you say on the advantages of H. Spencer's excellent expression of "the survival of the fittest." (Extract from a letter of Mr. Wallace's, July 2, 1866: "The term 'survival of the fittest' is the plain expression of the fact; 'natural selection' is a metaphorical expression of it, and to a certain degree indirect and incorrect, since...Nature...does not so much select special varieties as exterminate the most unfavourable ones.") This, however, had not occurred to me till reading your letter. It is, however, a great objection to this term that it cannot be used as a substantive governing a verb; and that this is a real objection I infer from H. Spencer continually using the words, natural selection. I formerly thought, probably in an exaggerated degree, that it was a great advantage to bring into connection natural and artificial selection; this indeed led me to use a term in common, and I still think it some advantage. I wish I had received your letter two months ago, for I would have worked in "the survival, etc.," often in the new edition of the 'Origin,' which is now almost printed off, and of which I will of course send you a copy. I will use the term in my next book on Domestic Animals, etc., from which, by the way, I plainly see that you expect MUCH, too much. The term Natural Selection has now been so largely used abroad and at home, that I doubt whether it could be given up, and with all its faults I should be sorry to see the attempt made. Whether it will be rejected must now depend "on the survival of the fittest." As in time the term must grow intelligible the objections to its use will grow weaker and weaker. I doubt whether the use of any term would have made the subject intelligible to some minds, clear as it is to others; for do we not see even to the present day Malthus on Population absurdly misunderstood? This reflection about Malthus has often comforted me when I have been vexed at the misstatement of my views. As for M. Janet (This no doubt refers to Janet's 'Materialisme Contemporain.'), he is a metaphysician, and such gentlemen are so acute that I think they often misunderstand common folk. Your criticism on the double sense ("I find you use 'Natural Selection' in two senses. 1st, for the simple preservation of favourable and rejection of unfavourable variations, in which case it is equivalent to the 'survival of the fittest,'--and 2ndly, for the effect or CHANGE produced by this preservation." Extract from Mr. Wallace's letter above quoted.) in which I have used Natural Selection is new to me and unanswerable; but my blunder has done no harm, for I do not believe that any one, excepting you, has ever observed it. Again, I agree that I have said too much about "favourable variations;" but I am inclined to think that you put the opposite side too strongly; if every part of every being varied, I do not think we should see the same end, or object, gained by such wonderfully diversified means.

I hope you are enjoying the country, and are in good health, and are working hard at your Malay Archipelago book, for I will always put this wish in every note I write to you, like some good people always put in a text. My health keeps much the same, or rather improves, and I am able to work some hours daily. With many thanks for your interesting letter.

Believe me, my dear Wallace, yours sincerely, CH. DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, August 30 [1866].


My dear Hooker,

I was very glad to get your note and the Notts. Newspaper. I have seldom been more pleased in my life than at hearing how successfully your lecture (At the Nottingham meeting of the British Association, August 27, 1866. The subject of the lecture was 'Insular Floras.' See "Gardeners' Chronicle", 1866.) went off. Mrs. H. Wedgwood sent us an account, saying that you read capitally, and were listened to with profound attention and great applause. She says, when your final allegory (Sir Joseph Hooker allegorized the Oxford meeting of the British Association as the gathering of a tribe of savages who believed that the new moon was created afresh each month. The anger of the priests and medicine man at a certain heresy, according to which the new moon is but the offspring of the old one, is excellently given.) began, "for a minute or two we were all mystified, and then came such bursts of applause from the audience. It was thoroughly enjoyed amid roars of laughter and noise, making a most brilliant conclusion."

I am rejoiced that you will publish your lecture, and felt sure that sooner or later it would come to this, indeed it would have been a sin if you had not done so. I am especially rejoiced as you give the arguments for occasional transport, with such perfect fairness; these will now receive a fair share of attention, as coming from you a professed botanist. Thanks also for Grove's address; as a whole it strikes me as very good and original, but I was disappointed in the part about Species; it dealt in such generalities that it would apply to any view or no view in particular...

And now farewell. I do most heartily rejoice at your success, and for Grove's sake at the brilliant success of the whole meeting.

Yours affectionately, [The next letter is of interest, as giving the beginning of the connection which arose between my father and Professor Victor Carus. The translation referred to is the third German edition made from the fourth English one. From this time forward Professor Carus continued to translate my father's books into German. The conscientious care with which this work was done was of material service, and I well remember the admiration (mingled with a tinge of vexation at his own short-comings) with which my father used to receive the lists of oversights, etc., which Professor Carus discovered in the course of translation. The connection was not a mere business one, but was cemented by warm feelings of regard on both sides.]

CHARLES DARWIN TO VICTOR CARUS. Down, November 10, 1866.


My dear Sir,

I thank you for your extremely kind letter. I cannot express too strongly my satisfaction that you have undertaken the revision of the new edition, and I feel the honour which you have conferred on me. I fear that you will find the labour considerable, not only on account of the additions, but I suspect that Bronn's translation is very defective, at least I have heard complaints on this head from quite a large number of persons. It would be a great gratification to me to know that the translation was a really good one, such as I have no doubt you will produce. According to our English practice, you will be fully justified in entirely omitting Bronn's Appendix, and I shall be very glad of its omission. A new edition may be looked at as a new work...You could add anything of your own that you liked, and I should be much pleased. Should you make any additions or append notes, it appears to me that Nageli "Entstehung und Begriff," etc. ('Entstehung und Begriff der Naturhistorischen Art.' An address given at a public meeting of the 'R. Academy of Sciences' at Munich, March 28, 1865.), would be worth noticing, as one of the most able pamphlets on the subject. I am, however, far from agreeing with him that the acquisition of certain characters which appear to be of no service to plants, offers any great difficulty, or affords a proof of some innate tendency in plants towards perfection. If you intend to notice this pamphlet, I should like to write hereafter a little more in detail on the subject.

...I wish I had known when writing my Historical Sketch that you had in 1853 published your views on the genealogical connection of past and present forms.


I suppose you have the sheets of the last English edition on which I marked with pencil all the chief additions, but many little corrections of style were not marked.


Pray believe that I feel sincerely grateful for the great service and honour which you do me by the present translation.

I remain, my dear Sir, yours very sincerely, P.S.--I should be VERY MUCH pleased to possess your photograph, and I send mine in case you should like to have a copy.

CHARLES DARWIN TO C. NAGELI. (Professor of Botany at Munich.) Down, June 12 [1866].


Dear Sir,

I hope you will excuse the liberty which I take in writing to you. I have just read, though imperfectly, your 'Entstehung und Begriff,' and have been so greatly interested by it, that I have sent it to be translated, as I am a poor German scholar. I have just finished a new [4th] edition of my 'Origin,' which will be translated into German, and my object in writing to you is to say that if you should see this edition you would think that I had borrowed from you, without acknowledgment, two discussions on the beauty of flowers and fruit; but I assure you every word was printed off before I had opened your pamphlet. Should you like to possess a copy of either the German or English new edition, I should be proud to send one. I may add, with respect to the beauty of flowers, that I have already hinted the same views as you hold in my paper on Lythrum.

Many of your criticisms on my views are the best which I have met with, but I could answer some, at least to my own satisfaction; and I regret extremely that I had not read your pamphlet before printing my new edition. On one or two points, I think, you have a little misunderstood me, though I dare say I have not been cautious in expressing myself. The remark which has struck me most, is that on the position of the leaves not having been acquired through natural selection, from not being of any special importance to the plant. I well remember being formerly troubled by an analogous difficulty, namely, the position of the ovules, their anatropous condition, etc. It was owing to forgetfulness that I did not notice this difficulty in the 'Origin.' (Nageli's Essay is noticed in the 5th edition.) Although I can offer no explanation of such facts, and only hope to see that they may be explained, yet I hardly see how they support the doctrine of some law of necessary development, for it is not clear to me that a plant, with its leaves placed at some particular angle, or with its ovules in some particular position, thus stands higher than another plant. But I must apologise for troubling you with these remarks.

As I much wish to possess your photograph, I take the liberty of enclosing my own, and with sincere respect I remain, dear Sir,


Yours faithfully, CH. DARWIN.

[I give a few extracts from letters of various dates showing my father's interest, alluded to in the last letter, in the problem of the arrangement of the leaves on the stems of plants. It may be added that Professor Schwendener of Berlin has successfully attacked the question in his 'Mechanische Theorie der Blattstellungen,' 1878.

TO DR. FALCONER. August 26 [1863]. "Do you remember telling me that I ought to study Phyllotaxy? Well I have often wished you at the bottom of the sea; for I could not resist, and I muddled my brains with diagrams, etc., and specimens, and made out, as might have been expected, nothing. Those angles are a most wonderful problem and I wish I could see some one give a rational explanation of them."

TO DR. ASA GRAY. May 11 [1861].

"If you wish to save me from a miserable death, do tell me why the angles 1/2, 1/3, 2/5, 3/8, etc, series occur, and no other angles. It is enough to drive the quietest man mad. Did you and some mathematician (Probably my father was thinking of Chauncey Wright's work on Phyllotaxy, in Gould's 'Astronomical Journal,' No.99, 1856, and in the 'Mathematical Monthly,' 1859. These papers are mentioned in the "Letters of Chauncey Wright.' Mr. Wright corresponded with my father on the subject.) publish some paper on the subject? Hooker says you did; where is it?

TO DR. ASA GRAY. [May 31, 1863?].

"I have been looking at Nageli's work on this subject, and am astonished to see that the angle is not always the same in young shoots when the leaf- buds are first distinguishable, as in full-grown branches. This shows, I think, that there must be some potent cause for those angles which do occur: I dare say there is some explanation as simple as that for the angles of the Bees-cells."

My father also corresponded with Dr. Hubert Airy and was interested in his views on the subject, published in the Royal Soc. Proceedings, 1873, page 176.


We now return to the year 1866.


In November, when the prosecution of Governor Eyre was dividing England into two bitterly opposed parties, he wrote to Sir J. Hooker:--


"You will shriek at me when you hear that I have just subscribed to the Jamaica Committee." (He subscribed 10 pounds.)


On this subject I quote from a letter of my brother's:--

"With respect to Governor Eyre's conduct in Jamaica, he felt strongly that J.S. Mill was right in prosecuting him. I remember one evening, at my Uncle's, we were talking on the subject, and as I happened to think it was too strong a measure to prosecute Governor Eyre for murder, I made some foolish remark about the prosecutors spending the surplus of the fund in a dinner. My father turned on me almost with fury, and told me, if those were my feelings, I had better go back to Southampton; the inhabitants having given a dinner to Governor Eyre on his landing, but with which I had had nothing to do." The end of the incident, as told by my brother, is so characteristic of my father that I cannot resist giving it, though it has no bearing on the point at issue. "Next morning at 7 o'clock, or so, he came into my bedroom and sat on my bed, and said that he had not been able to sleep from the thought that he had been so angry with me, and after a few more kind words he left me."

The same restless desire to correct a disagreeable or incorrect impression is well illustrated in an extract which I quote from some notes by Rev. J. Brodie Innes:--

"Allied to the extreme carefulness of observation was his most remarkable truthfulness in all matters. On one occasion, when a parish meeting had been held on some disputed point of no great importance, I was surprised by a visit from Mr. Darwin at night. He came to say that, thinking over the debate, though what he had said was quite accurate, he thought I might have drawn an erroneous conclusion, and he would not sleep till he had explained it. I believe that if on any day some certain fact had come to his knowledge which contradicted his most cherished theories, he would have placed the fact on record for publication before he slept."

This tallies with my father's habits, as described by himself. When a difficulty or an objection occurred to him, he thought it of paramount importance to make a note of it instantly because he found hostile facts to be especially evanescent.

The same point is illustrated by the following incident, for which I am indebted to Mr. Romanes:--

"I have always remembered the following little incident as a good example of Mr. Darwin's extreme solicitude on the score of accuracy. One evening at Down there was a general conversation upon the difficulty of explaining the evolution of some of the distinctively human emotions, especially those appertaining to the recognition of beauty in natural scenery. I suggested a view of my own upon the subject, which, depending upon the principle of association, required the supposition that a long line of ancestors should have inhabited regions, the scenery of which is now regarded as beautiful. Just as I was about to observe that the chief difficulty attaching to my hypothesis arose from feelings of the sublime (seeing that these are associated with awe, and might therefore be expected not to be agreeable), Mr. Darwin anticipated the remark, by asking how the hypothesis was to meet the case of these feelings. In the conversation which followed, he said the occasion in his own life, when he was most affected by the emotions of the sublime was when he stood upon one of the summits of the Cordillera, and surveyed the magnificent prospect all around. It seemed, as he quaintly observed, as if his nerves had become fiddle strings, and had all taken to rapidly vibrating. This remark was only made incidentally, and the conversation passed into some other branch. About an hour afterwards Mr. Darwin retired to rest, while I sat up in the smoking-room with one of his sons. We continued smoking and talking for several hours, when at about one o'clock in the morning the door gently opened and Mr. Darwin appeared, in his slippers and dressing-gown. As nearly as I can remember, the following are the words he used:--

"'Since I went to bed I have been thinking over our conversation in the drawing-room, and it has just occurred to me that I was wrong in telling you I felt most of the sublime when on the top of the Cordillera; I am quite sure that I felt it even more when in the forests of Brazil. I thought it best to come and tell you this at once in case I should be putting you wrong. I am sure now that I felt most sublime in the forests.'

"This was all he had come to say, and it was evident that he had come to do so, because he thought that the fact of his feeling 'most sublime in forests' was more in accordance with the hypothesis which we had been discussing, than the fact which he had previously stated. Now, as no one knew better than Mr. Darwin the difference between a speculation and a fact, I thought this little exhibition of scientific conscientiousness very noteworthy, where the only question concerned was of so highly speculative a character. I should not have been so much impressed if he had thought that by his temporary failure of memory he had put me on a wrong scent in any matter of fact, although even in such a case he is the only man I ever knew who would care to get out of bed at such a time at night in order to make the correction immediately, instead of waiting till next morning. But as the correction only had reference to a flimsy hypothesis, I certainly was very much impressed by this display of character."]

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, December 10 [1866].

...I have now read the last No. of H. Spencer. ('Principles of Biology.') I do not know whether to think it better than the previous number, but it is wonderfully clever, and I dare say mostly true. I feel rather mean when I read him: I could bear, and rather enjoy feeling that he was twice as ingenious and clever as myself, but when I feel that he is about a dozen times my superior, even in the master art of wriggling, I feel aggrieved. If he had trained himself to observe more, even if at the expense, by the law of balancement, of some loss of thinking power, he would have been a wonderful man.

...I am HEARTILY glad you are taking up the Distribution of Plants in New Zealand, and suppose it will make part of your new book. Your view, as I understand it, that New Zealand subsided and formed two or more small islands, and then rose again, seems to me extremely probable...When I puzzled my brains about New Zealand, I remember I came to the conclusion, as indeed I state in the 'Origin,' that its flora, as well as that of other southern lands, had been tinctured by an Antarctic flora, which must have existed before the Glacial period. I concluded that New Zealand never could have been closely connected with Australia, though I supposed it had received some few Australian forms by occasional means of transport. Is there any reason to suppose that New Zealand could have been more closely connected with South Australia during the glacial period, when the Eucalypti, etc., might have been driven further North? Apparently there remains only the line, which I think you suggested, of sunken islands from New Caledonia. Please remember that the Edwardsia was certainly drifted there by the sea.

I remember in old days speculating on the amount of life, i.e. of organic chemical change, at different periods. There seems to me one very difficult element in the problem, namely, the state of development of the organic beings at each period, for I presume that a Flora and Fauna of cellular cryptogamic plants, of Protozoa and Radiata would lead to much less chemical change than is now going on. But I have scribbled enough. Yours affectionately, CH. DARWIN.

[The following letter is in acknowledgment of Mr. Rivers' reply to an earlier letter in which my father had asked for information on bud- variation:

It may find a place here in illustration of the manner of my father's intercourse with those "whose avocations in life had to do with the rearing or use of living things" ("Mr. Dyer in 'Charles Darwin,'" "Nature Series", 1882, page 39.)--an intercourse which bore such good fruit in the 'Variation of Animals and Plants.' Mr. Dyer has some excellent remarks on the unexpected value thus placed on apparently trivial facts disinterred from weekly journals, or amassed by correspondence. He adds: "Horticulturists who had...moulded plants almost at their will at the impulse of taste or profit were at once amazed and charmed to find that they had been doing scientific work and helping to establish a great theory."]

CHARLES DARWIN TO T. RIVERS. (The late Mr. Rivers was an eminent horticulturist and writer on horticulture.) Down, December 28 [1866?].


My dear Sir,

Permit me to thank you cordially for your most kind letter. For years I have read with interest every scrap which you have written in periodicals, and abstracted in MS. your book on Roses, and several times I thought I would write to you, but did not know whether you would think me too intrusive. I shall, indeed, be truly obliged for any information you can supply me on bud-variation or sports. When any extra difficult points occur to me in my present subject (which is a mass of difficulties), I will apply to you, but I will not be unreasonable. It is most true what you say that any one to study well the physiology of the life of plants, ought to have under his eye a multitude of plants. I have endeavoured to do what I can by comparing statements by many writers and observing what I could myself. Unfortunately few have observed like you have done. As you are so kind, I will mention one other point on which I am collecting facts; namely, the effect produced on the stock by the graft; thus, it is SAID, that the purpleleaved filbert affects the leaves of the common hazel on which it is grafted (I have just procured a plant to try), so variegated jessamine is SAID to affect its stock. I want these facts partly to throw light on the marvellous laburnum Adami, trifacial oranges, etc. That laburnum case seems one of the strangest in physiology. I have now growing splendid, FERTILE, yellow laburnums (with a long raceme like the so-called Waterer's laburnum) from seed of yellow flowers on the C. Adami. To a man like myself, who is compelled to live a solitary life, and sees few persons, it is no slight satisfaction to hear that I have been able at all [to] interest by my books observers like yourself.

As I shall publish on my present subject, I presume, within a year, it will be of no use your sending me the shoots of peaches and nectarines which you so kindly offer; I have recorded your facts.

Permit me again to thank you cordially; I have not often in my life received a kinder letter.
My dear Sir, yours sincerely, CH. DARWIN.

The Publication Of The 'Variation Of Animals And Plants Under Domestication'

JANUARY 1867, TO JUNE 1868.

[At the beginning of the year 1867 he was at work on the final chapter-- "Concluding Remarks" of the 'Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication,' which was begun after the rest of the MS. had been sent to the printers in the preceding December. With regard to the publication of the book he wrote to Mr. Murray, on January 3:--

"I cannot tell you how sorry I am to hear of the enormous size of my book. (On January 9
he wrote to Sir J.D. Hooker: "I have been these last few days vexed and annoyed to a foolish degree by hearing that my MS. on Dom. An. and Cult. Plants will make 2
volumes, both bigger than the 'Origin.' The volumes will have to be full-sized octavo, so I have written to Murray to suggest details to be printed in small type. But I feel that the size is quite ludicrous in relation to the subject. I am ready to swear at myself and at every fool who writes a book.") I fear it can never pay. But I cannot shorten it now; nor, indeed, if I had foreseen its length, do I see which parts ought to have been omitted.

"If you are afraid to publish it, say so at once, I beg you, and I will consider your note as cancelled. If you think fit, get any one whose judgment you rely on, to look over some of the more legible chapters, namely, the Introduction, and on dogs and plants, the latter chapters being in my opinion, the dullest in the book...The list of chapters, and the inspection of a few here and there, would give a good judge a fair idea of the whole book. Pray do not publish blindly, as it would vex me all my life if I led you to heavy loss."

Mr. Murray referred the MS. to a literary friend, and, in spite of a somewhat adverse opinion, willingly agreed to publish the book. My father wrote:--

"Your note has been a great relief to me. I am rather alarmed about the verdict of your friend, as he is not a man of science. I think if you had sent the 'Origin' to an unscientific man, he would have utterly condemned it. I am, however, VERY GLAD that you have consulted any one on whom you can rely.

"I must add, that my 'Journal of Researches' was seen in MS. by an eminent semiscientific man, and was pronounced unfit for publication."

The proofs were begun in March, and the last revise was finished on November 15th, and during this period the only intervals of rest were two visits of a week each at his brother Erasmus's house in Queen Anne Street. He notes in his Diary:--

"I began this book [in the] beginning of 1860 (and then had some MS.), but owing to interruptions from my illness, and illness of children; from various editions of the 'Origin,' and Papers, especially Orchis book and Tendrils, I have spent four years and two months over it."
The edition of 'Animals and Plants' was of 1500 copies, and of these 1260 were sold at Mr. Murray's autumnal sale, but it was not published until January 30, 1868. A new edition of 1250 copies was printed in February of the same year.

In 1867 he received the distinction of being made a knight of the Prussian Order "Pour le Merite." (The Order "Pour le Merite" was founded in 1740 by Frederick II. by the rechristening of an "Order of Generosity," founded in 1665. It was at one time strictly military, having been previously both civil and military, and in 1840 the Order was again opened to civilians. The order consists of thirty members of German extraction, but distinguished foreigners are admitted to a kind of extraordinary membership. Faraday, Herschel, and Thomas Moore, have belonged to it in this way. From the thirty members a chancellor is elected by the king (the first officer of this kind was Alexander v. Humboldt); and it is the duty of the chancellor to notify a vacancy in the Order to the remainder of the thirty, who then elect by vote the new member--but the king has technically the appointment in his own hands.) He seems not to have known how great the distinction was, for in June 1868 he wrote to Sir J.D. Hooker:--

"What a man you are for sympathy. I was made "Eques" some months ago, but did not think much about it. Now, by Jove, we all do; but you, in fact, have knighted me."


The letters may now take up the story.]


CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, February 8 [1867].


My dear Hooker,

I am heartily glad that you have been offered the Presidentship of the British Association, for it is a great honour, and as you have so much work to do, I am equally glad that you have declined it. I feel, however, convinced that you would have succeeded very well; but if I fancy myself in such a position, it actually makes my blood run cold. I look back with amazement at the skill and taste with which the Duke of Argyll made a multitude of little speeches at Glasgow. By the way, I have not seen the Duke's book ('The Reign of Law,' 1867.), but I formerly thought that some of the articles which appeared in periodicals were very clever, but not very profound. One of these was reviewed in the "Saturday Review" ("Saturday Review", November 15, 1862, 'The "Edinburgh Review" on the Supernatural.' Written by my cousin, Mr. Henry Parker.) some years ago, and the fallacy of some main argument was admirably exposed, and I sent the article to you, and you agreed strongly with it...There was the other day a rather good review of the Duke's book in the "Spectator", and with a new explanation, either by the Duke or the reviewer (I could not make out which), of rudimentary organs, namely, that economy of labour and material was a great guiding principle with God (ignoring waste of seed and of young monsters, etc.), and that making a new plan for the structure of animals was thought, and thought was labour, and therefore God kept to a uniform plan, and left rudiments. This is no exaggeration. In short, God is a man, rather cleverer than us...I am very much obliged for the "Nation" (returned by this post); it is ADMIRABLY good. You say I always guess wrong, but I do not believe any one, except Asa Gray, could have done the thing so well. I would bet even, or three to two, that it is Asa Gray, though one or two passages staggered me.

I finish my book on 'Domestic Animals,' etc., by a single paragraph, answering, or rather throwing doubt, in so far as so little space permits, on Asa Gray's doctrine that each variation has been specially ordered or led along a beneficial line. It is foolish to touch such subjects, but there have been so many allusions to what I think about the part which God has played in the formation of organic beings (Prof. Judd allows me to quote from some notes which he has kindly given me:--"Lyell once told me that he had frequently been asked if Darwin was not one of the most unhappy of men, it being suggested that his outrage upon public opinion should have filled him with remorse." Sir Charles Lyell must have been able, I think, to give a satisfactory answer on this point. Professor Judd continues:--

"I made a note of this and other conversations of Lyell's at the time. At the present time such statements must appear strange to any one who does not recollect the revolution in opinion which has taken place during the last 23 years [1882]."), that I thought it shabby to evade the question...I have even received several letters on the subject...I overlooked your sentence about Providence, and suppose I treated it as Buckland did his own theology, when his Bridgewater Treatise was read aloud to him for correction...

[The following letter, from Mrs. Boole, is one of those referred to in the last letter to Sir J.D. Hooker:]


Dear Sir,


Will you excuse my venturing to ask you a question, to which no one's answer but your own would be quite satisfactory?

Do you consider the holding of your theory of Natural Selection, in its fullest and most unreserved sense, to be inconsistent--I do not say with any particular scheme of theological doctrine--but with the following belief, namely:--

That knowledge is given to man by the direct inspiration of the Spirit of God.


That God is a personal and Infinitely good Being.


That the effect of the action of the Spirit of God on the brain of man is especially a moral effect.

And that each individual man has within certain limits a power of choice as to how far he will yield to his hereditary animal impulses, and how far he will rather follow the guidance of the Spirit, who is educating him into a power of resisting those impulses in obedience to moral motives?

The reason why I ask you is this: my own impression has always been, not only that your theory was perfectly COMPATIBLE with the faith to which I have just tried to give expression, but that your books afforded me a clue which would guide me in applying that faith to the solution of certain complicated psychological problems which it was of practical importance to me as a mother to solve. I felt that you had supplied one of the missing links--not to say THE missing link--between the facts of science and the promises of religion. Every year's experience tends to deepen in me that impression.

But I have lately read remarks on the probable bearing of your theory on religious and moral questions which have perplexed and pained me sorely. I know that the persons who make such remarks must be cleverer and wiser than myself. I cannot feel sure that they are mistaken, unless you will tell me so. And I think--I cannot know for certain--but I THINK--that if I were an author, I would rather that the humblest student of my works should apply to me directly in a difficulty, than that she should puzzle too long over adverse and probably mistaken or thoughtless criticisms.

At the same time I feel that you have a perfect right to refuse to answer such questions as I have asked you. Science must take her path, and Theology hers, and they will meet when and where and how God pleases, and you are in no sense responsible for it if the meeting-point should still be very far off. If I receive no answer to this letter I shall infer nothing from your silence, except that you felt I had no right to make such enquiries of a stranger.

[My father replied as follows:]


Down, December 14, [1866].


Dear Madam,

It would have gratified me much if I could have sent satisfactory answers to your questions, or, indeed, answers of any kind. But I cannot see how the belief that all organic beings, including man, have been genetically derived from some simple being, instead of having been separately created, bears on your difficulties. These, as it seems to me, can be answered only by widely different evidence from science, or by the so-called "inner consciousness." My opinion is not worth more than that of any other man who has thought on such subjects, and it would be folly in me to give it. I may, however, remark that it has always appeared to me more satisfactory to look at the immense amount of pain and suffering in this world as the inevitable result of the natural sequence of events, i.e. general laws, rather than from the direct intervention of God, though I am aware this is not logical with reference to an omniscient Deity. Your last question seems to resolve itself into the problem of free will and necessity, which has been found by most persons insoluble. I sincerely wish that this note had not been as utterly valueless as it is. I would have sent full answers, though I have little time or strength to spare, had it been in my power. I have the honour to remain, dear Madam,

Yours very faithfully, CHARLES DARWIN. P.S.--I am grieved that my views should incidentally have caused trouble to your mind, but I thank you for your judgment, and honour you for it, that theology and science should each run its own course, and that in the present case I am not responsible if their meeting-point should still be far off.

[The next letter discusses the 'Reign of Law,' referred to a few pages back:]


CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, June 1 [1867].

...I am at present reading the Duke, and am VERY MUCH interested by him; yet I cannot but think, clever as the whole is, that parts are weak, as when he doubts whether each curvature of the beak of humming-birds is of service to each species. He admits, perhaps too fully, that I have shown the use of each little ridge and shape of each petal in orchids, and how strange he does not extend the view to humming-birds. Still odder, it seems to me, all that he says on beauty, which I should have thought a nonentity, except in the mind of some sentient being. He might have as well said that love existed during the secondary or Palaeozoic periods. I hope you are getting on with your book better than I am with mine, which kills me with the labour of correcting, and is intolerably dull, though I did not think so when I was writing it. A naturalist's life would be a happy one if he had only to observe, and never to write.

We shall be in London for a week in about a fortnight's time, and I shall enjoy having a breakfast talk with you.


Yours affectionately, C. DARWIN.


[The following letter refers to the new and improved translation of the 'Origin,' undertaken by Professor Carus:]


CHARLES DARWIN TO J. VICTOR CARUS. Down, February 17 [1867].


My dear Sir,

I have read your preface with care. It seems to me that you have treated Bronn with complete respect and great delicacy, and that you have alluded to your own labour with much modesty. I do not think that any of Bronn's friends can complain of what you say and what you have done. For my own sake, I grieve that you have not added notes, as I am sure that I should have profited much by them; but as you have omitted Bronn's objections, I believe that you have acted with excellent judgment and fairness in leaving the text without comment to the independent verdict of the reader. I heartily congratulate you that the main part of your labour is over; it would have been to most men a very troublesome task, but you seem to have indomitable powers of work, judging from those two wonderful and most useful volumes on zoological literature ('Bibliotheca Zoologica,' 1861.) edited by you, and which I never open without surprise at their accuracy, and gratitude for their usefulness. I cannot sufficiently tell you how much I rejoice that you were persuaded to superintend the translation of the present edition of my book, for I have now the great satisfaction of knowing that the German public can judge fairly of its merits and demerits...

With my cordial and sincere thanks, believe me,


My dear Sir, yours very faithfully, CH. DARWIN.

[The earliest letter which I have seen from my father to Professor Haeckel, was written in 1865, and from that time forward they corresponded (though not, I think, with any regularity) up to the end of my father's life. His friendship with Haeckel was not nearly growth of correspondence, as was the case with some others, for instance, Fritz Muller. Haeckel paid more than one visit to Down, and these were thoroughly enjoyed by my father. The following letter will serve to show the strong feeling of regard which he entertained for his correspondent--a feeling which I have often heard him emphatically express, and which was warmly returned. The book referred to is Haeckel's 'Generelle Morphologie,' published in 1866, a copy of which my father received from the author in January 1867.

Dr. E. Krause ('Charles Darwin und sein Verhaltniss zu Deutschland,' 1885.) has given a good account of Professor Haeckel's services to the cause of Evolution. After speaking of the lukewarm reception which the 'Origin' met with in Germany on its first publication, he goes on to describe the first adherents of the new faith as more or less popular writers, not especially likely to advance its acceptance with the professorial or purely scientific world. And he claims for Haeckel that it was his advocacy of Evolution in his 'Radiolaria' (1862), and at the "Versammlung" of Naturalists at Stettin in 1863, that placed the Darwinian question for the first time publicly before the forum of German science, and his enthusiastic propagandism that chiefly contributed to its success.

Mr. Huxley, writing in 1869, paid a high tribute to Professor Haeckel as the Coryphaeus of the Darwinian movement in Germany. Of his 'Generelle Morphologie,' "an attempt to work out the practical application" of the doctrine of Evolution to their final results, he says that it has the "force and suggestiveness, and...systematising power of Oken without his extravagance." Professor Huxley also testifies to the value of Haeckel's 'SchopfungsGeschichte' as an exposition of the 'Generelle Morphologie' "for an educated public."

Again, in his 'Evolution in Biology' (An article in the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica,' 9th edition, reprinted in 'Science and Culture,' 1881, page 298.), Mr. Huxley wrote: "Whatever hesitation may, not unfrequently, be felt by less daring minds, in following Haeckel in many of his speculations, his attempt to systematise the doctrine of Evolution, and to exhibit its influence as the central thought of modern biology, cannot fail to have a far-reaching influence on the progress of science."

In the following letter my father alludes to the somewhat fierce manner in which Professor Haeckel fought the battle of 'Darwinismus,' and on this subject Dr. Krause has some good remarks (page 162). He asks whether much that happened in the heat of the conflict might not well have been otherwise, and adds that Haeckel himself is the last man to deny this. Nevertheless he thinks that even these things may have worked well for the cause of Evolution, inasmuch as Haeckel "concentrated on himself by his 'Ursprung des Menschen-Geschlechts,' his 'Generelle Morphologie,' and 'Schopfungs-Geschichte,' all the hatred and bitterness which Evolution excited in certain quarters," so that, "in a surprisingly short time it became the fashion in Germany that Haeckel alone should be abused, while Darwin was held up as the ideal of forethought and moderation."]



Dear Haeckel,

Your letter of the 18th has given me great pleasure, for you have received what I said in the most kind and cordial manner. You have in part taken what I said much stronger than I had intended. It never occurred to me for a moment to doubt that your work, with the whole subject so admirably and clearly arranged, as well as fortified by so many new facts and arguments, would not advance our common object in the highest degree. All that I think is that you will excite anger, and that anger so completely blinds every one, that your arguments would have no chance of influencing those who are already opposed to our views. Moreover, I do not at all like that you, towards whom I feel so much friendship, should unnecessarily make enemies, and there is pain and vexation enough in the world without more being caused. But I repeat that I can feel no doubt that your work will greatly advance our subject, and I heartily wish it could be translated into English, for my own sake and that of others. With respect to what you say about my advancing too strongly objections against my own views, some of my English friends think that I have erred on this side; but truth compelled me to write what I did, and I am inclined to think it was good policy. The belief in the descent theory is slowly spreading in England (In October 1867 he wrote to Mr. Wallace:--"Mr. Warrington has lately read an excellent and spirited abstract of the 'Origin' before the Victoria Institute, and as this is a most orthodox body, he has gained the name of the Devil's Advocate. The discussion which followed during three consecutive meetings is very rich from the nonsense talked. If you would care to see the number I could send it you."), even amongst those who can give no reason for their belief. No body of men were at first so much opposed to my views as the members of the London Entomological Society, but now I am assured that, with the exception of two or three old men, all the members concur with me to a certain extent. It has been a great disappointment to me that I have never received your long letter written to me from the Canary Islands. I am rejoiced to hear that your tour, which seems to have been a most interesting one, has done your health much good. I am working away at my new book, but make very slow progress, and the work tries my health, which is much the same as when you were here.

Victor Carus is going to translate it, but whether it is worth translation, I am rather doubtful. I am very glad to hear that there is some chance of your visiting England this autumn, and all in this house will be delighted to see you here.
Believe me, my dear Haeckel, Yours very sincerely,

CHARLES DARWIN TO F. MULLER. Down, July 31 [1867].


My dear Sir,

I received a week ago your letter of June 2, full as usual of valuable matter and specimens. It arrived at exactly the right time, for I was enabled to give a pretty full abstract of your observations on the plant's own pollen being poisonous. I have inserted this abstract in the proof- sheets in my chapter on sterility, and it forms the most striking part of my whole chapter. (In 'The Variation of Animals and Plants.') I thank you very sincerely for the most interesting observations, which, however, I regret that you did not publish independently. I have been forced to abbreviate one or two parts more than I wished...Your letters always surprise me, from the number of points to which you attend. I wish I could make my letters of any interest to you, for I hardly ever see a naturalist, and live as retired a life as you in Brazil. With respect to mimetic plants, I remember Hooker many years ago saying he believed that there were many, but I agree with you that it would be most difficult to distinguish between mimetic resemblance and the effects of peculiar conditions. Who can say to which of these causes to attribute the several plants with heath-like foliage at the Cape of Good Hope? Is it not also a difficulty that quadrupeds appear to recognise plants more by their [scent] than their appearance? What I have just said reminds me to ask you a question. Sir J. Lubbock brought me the other day what appears to be a terrestrial Planaria (the first ever found in the northern hemisphere) and which was coloured exactly like our dark-coloured slugs. Now slugs are not devoured by birds, like the shell-bearing species, and this made me remember that I found the Brazilian Planariae actually together with striped Vaginuli which I believe were similarly coloured. Can you throw any light on this? I wish to know, because I was puzzled some months ago how it would be possible to account for the bright colours of the Planariae in reference to sexual selection. By the way, I suppose they are hermaphrodites.

Do not forget to aid me, if in your power, with answers to ANY of my questions on expression, for the subject interests me greatly. With cordial thanks for your never-failing kindness, believe me,

Yours very sincerely, CHARLES DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, July 18 [1867].

My dear Lyell, Many thanks for your long letter. I am sorry to hear that you are in despair about your book (The 2nd volume of the 10th Edition of the 'Principles.'); I well know that feeling, but am now getting out of the lower depths. I shall be very much pleased, if you can make the least use of my present book, and do not care at all whether it is published before yours. Mine will appear towards the end of November of this year; you speak of yours as not coming out till November, 1868, which I hope may be an error. There is nothing about Man in my book which can interfere with you, so I will order all the completed clean sheets to be sent (and others as soon as ready) to you, but please observe you will not care for the first volume, which is a mere record of the amount of variation; but I hope the second will be somewhat more interesting. Though I fear the whole must be dull.

I rejoice from my heart that you are going to speak out plainly about species. My book about Man, if published, will be short, and a large portion will be devoted to sexual selection, to which subject I alluded in the 'Origin' as bearing on Man...

CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, August 22 [1867].


My dear Lyell,

I thank you cordially for your last two letters. The former one did me REAL good, for I had got so wearied with the subject that I could hardly bear to correct the proofs (The proofs of 'Animals and Plants,' which Lyell was then reading.), and you gave me fresh heart. I remember thinking that when you came to the Pigeon chapter you would pass it over as quite unreadable. Your last letter has interested me in very many ways, and I have been glad to hear about those horrid unbelieving Frenchmen. I have been particularly pleased that you have noticed Pangenesis. I do not know whether you ever had the feeling of having thought so much over a subject that you had lost all power of judging it. This is my case with Pangenesis (which is 26 or 27 years old), but I am inclined to think that if it be admitted as a probable hypothesis it will be a somewhat important step in Biology.

I cannot help still regretting that you have ever looked at the slips, for I hope to improve the whole a good deal. It is surprising to me, and delightful, that you should care in the least about the plants. Altogether you have given me one of the best cordials I ever had in my life, and I heartily thank you. I despatched this morning the French edition. (Of the 'Origin.' It appears that my father was sending a copy of the French edition to Sir Charles. The introduction was by Mdlle. Royer, who translated the book.) The introduction was a complete surprise to me, and I dare say has injured the book in France; shows, I think, that the woman is uncommonly clever. Once again many thanks for the renewed courage with which I shall attack the horrid proof-sheets.

Yours affectionately, CHARLES DARWIN. P.S.--A Russian who is translating my new book into Russian has been here, and says you are immensely read in Russia, and many editions--how many I forget. Six editions of Buckle and four editions of the 'Origin.'

CHARLES DARWIN TO ASA GRAY. Down, October 16 [1867].


My dear Gray,

I send by this post clean sheets of Volume I. up to page 336, and there are only 411 pages in this volume. I am VERY glad to hear that you are going to review my book; but if the "Nation" (The book was reviewed by Dr. Gray in the "Nation", March 19, 1868.) is a newspaper I wish it were at the bottom of the sea, for I fear that you will thus be stopped reviewing me in a scientific journal. The first volume is all details, and you will not be able to read it; and you must remember that the chapters on plants are written for naturalists who are not botanists. The last chapter in Volume I. is, however, I think, a curious compilation of facts; it is on bud- variation. In Volume II. some of the chapters are more interesting; and I shall be very curious to hear your verdict on the chapter on close inter- breeding. The chapter on what I call Pangenesis will be called a mad dream, and I shall be pretty well satisfied if you think it a dream worth publishing; but at the bottom of my own mind I think it contains a great truth. I finish my book with a semitheological paragraph, in which I quote and differ from you; what you will think of it, I know not...

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, November 17 [1867].


My dear Hooker,

Congratulate me, for I have finished the last revise of the last sheet of my book. It has been an awful job: seven and a half months correcting the press: the book, from much small type, does not look big, but is really very big. I have had hard work to keep up to the mark, but during the last week only few revises came, so that I have rested and feel more myself. Hence, after our long mutual silence, I enjoy myself by writing a note to you, for the sake of exhaling, and hearing from you. On account of the index (The index was made by Mr. W.S. Dallas; I have often heard my father express his admiration of this excellent piece of work.), I do not suppose that you will receive your copy till the middle of next month. I shall be intensely anxious to hear what you think about Pangenesis; though I can see how fearfully imperfect, even in mere conjectural conclusions, it is; yet it has been an infinite satisfaction to me somehow to connect the various large groups of facts, which I have long considered, by an intelligible thread. I shall not be at all surprised if you attack it and me with unparalleled ferocity. It will be my endeavour to do as little as possible for some time, but [I] shall soon prepare a paper or two for the Linnean Society. In a short time we shall go to London for ten days, but the time is not yet fixed. Now I have told you a deal about myself, and do let me hear a good deal about your own past and future doings. Can you pay us a visit, early in December?...I have seen no one for an age, and heard no news.
...About my book I will give you a bit of advice. Skip the WHOLE of Volume I., except the last chapter (and that need only be skimmed) and skip largely in the 2nd volume; and then you will say it is a very good book.



['The Variation of Animals and Plants' was, as already mentioned, published on January 30, 1868, and on that day he sent a copy to Fritz Muller, and wrote to him:--

"I send by this post, by French packet, my new book, the publication of which has been much delayed. The greater part, as you will see, is not meant to be read; but I should very much like to hear what you think of 'Pangenesis,' though I fear it will appear to EVERY ONE far too speculative."]

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. February 3 [1868].

...I am very much pleased at what you say about my Introduction; after it was in type I was as near as possible cancelling the whole. I have been for some time in despair about my book, and if I try to read a few pages I feel fairly nauseated, but do not let this make you praise it; for I have made up my mind that it is not worth a fifth part of the enormous labour it has cost me. I assure you that all that is worth your doing (if you have time for so much) is glancing at Chapter VI., and reading parts of the later chapters. The facts on self-impotent plants seem to me curious, and I have worked out to my own satisfaction the good from crossing and evil from interbreeding. I did read Pangenesis the other evening, but even this, my beloved child, as I had fancied, quite disgusted me. The devil take the whole book; and yet now I am at work again as hard as I am able. It is really a great evil that from habit I have pleasure in hardly anything except Natural History, for nothing else makes me forget my ever- recurrent uncomfortable sensations. But I must not howl any more, and the critics may say what they like; I did my best, and man can do no more. What a splendid pursuit Natural History would be if it was all observing and no writing!...

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, February 10 [1868].


My dear Hooker,

What is the good of having a friend, if one may not boast to him? I heard yesterday that Murray has sold in a week the whole edition of 1500 copies of my book, and the sale so pressing that he has agreed with Clowes to get another edition in fourteen days! This has done me a world of good, for I had got into a sort of dogged hatred of my book. And now there has appeared a review in the "Pall Mall" which has pleased me excessively, more perhaps than is reasonable. I am quite content, and do not care how much I may be pitched into. If by any chance you should hear who wrote the article in the "Pall Mall", do please tell me; it is some one who writes capitally, and who knows the subject. I went to luncheon on Sunday, to Lubbock's, partly in hopes of seeing you, and, be hanged to you, you were not there.

Your cock-a-hoop friend, C.D.

[Independently of the favourable tone of the able series of notices in the "Pall Mall Gazette" (February 10, 15, 17, 1868), my father may well have been gratified by the following passages:--

"We must call attention to the rare and noble calmness with which he expounds his own views, undisturbed by the heats of polemical agitation which those views have excited, and persistently refusing to retort on his antagonists by ridicule, by indignation, or by contempt. Considering the amount of vituperation and insinuation which has come from the other side, this forbearance is supremely dignified."

And again in the third notice, February 17:--

"Nowhere has the author a word that could wound the most sensitive self- love of an antagonist; nowhere does he, in text or note, expose the fallacies and mistakes of brother investigators...but while abstaining from impertinent censure, he is lavish in acknowledging the smallest debts he may owe; and his book will make many men happy."

I am indebted to Messrs. Smith & Elder for the information that these articles were written by Mr. G.H. Lewes.]


CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, February 23 [1868].


My dear Hooker,

I have had almost as many letters to write of late as you can have, viz. from 8 to 10 per diem, chiefly getting up facts on sexual selection, therefore I have felt no inclination to write to you, and now I mean to write solely about my book for my own satisfaction, and not at all for yours. The first edition was 1500 copies, and now the second is printed off; sharp work. Did you look at the review in the "Athenaeum" ("Athenaeum", February 15, 1868. My father quoted Pouchet's assertion that "variation under domestication throws no light on the natural modification of species." The reviewer quotes the end of a passage in which my father declares that he can see no force in Pouchet's arguments, or rather assertions, and then goes on: "We are sadly mistaken if there are not clear proofs in the pages of the book before us that, on the contrary, Mr. Darwin has perceived, felt, and yielded to the force of the arguments or assertions of his French antagonist." The following may serve as samples of the rest of the review:--
"Henceforth the rhetoricians will have a better illustration of anti-climax than the mountain which brought forth a mouse, the discoverer of the origin of species, who tried to explain the variation of pigeons!

"A few summary words. On the 'Origin of Species' Mr. Darwin has nothing, and is never likely to have anything, to say; but on the vastly important subject of inheritance, the transmission of peculiarities once acquired through successive generations, this work is a valuable store-house of facts for curious students and practical breeders."), showing profound contempt of me?...It is a shame that he should have said that I have taken much from Pouchet, without acknowledgment; for I took literally nothing, there being nothing to take. There is a capital review in the "Gardeners' Chronicle" which will sell the book if anything will. I don't quite see whether I or the writer is in a muddle about man CAUSING variability. If a man drops a bit of iron into sulphuric acid he does not cause the affinities to come into play, yet he may be said to make sulphate of iron. I do not know how to avoid ambiguity.

After what the "Pall Mall Gazette" and the "Chronicle" have said I do not care a d--.

I fear Pangenesis is stillborn; Bates says he has read it twice, and is not sure that he understands it. H. Spencer says the view is quite different from his (and this is a great relief to me, as I feared to be accused of plagiarism, but utterly failed to be sure what he meant, so thought it safest to give my view as almost the same as his), and he says he is not sure he understands it...Am I not a poor devil? yet I took such pains, I must think that I expressed myself clearly. Old Sir H. Holland says he has read it twice, and thinks it very tough; but believes that sooner or later "some view akin to it" will be accepted.

You will think me very self-sufficient, when I declare that I feel SURE if Pangenesis is now stillborn it will, thank God, at some future time reappear, begotten by some other father, and christened by some other name.

Have you ever met with any tangible and clear view of what takes place in generation, whether by seeds or buds, or how a long-lost character can possibly reappear; or how the male element can possibly affect the mother plant, or the mother animal, so that her future progeny are affected? Now all these points and many others are connected together, whether truly or falsely is another question, by Pangenesis. You see I die hard, and stick up for my poor child.

This letter is written for my own satisfaction, and not for yours. So bear it.


Yours affectionately, CH. DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO A. NEWTON. (Prof. of Zoology at Cambridge.) Down, February 9 [1870].

Dear Newton, I suppose it would be universally held extremely wrong for a defendant to write to a Judge to express his satisfaction at a judgment in his favour; and yet I am going thus to act. I have just read what you have said in the 'Record' ('Zoological Record.' The volume for 1868, published December 1869.) about my pigeon chapters, and it has gratified me beyond measure. I have sometimes felt a little disappointed that the labour of so many years seemed to be almost thrown away, for you are the first man capable of forming a judgment (excepting partly Quatrefages), who seems to have thought anything of this part of my work. The amount of labour, correspondence, and care, which the subject cost me, is more than you could well suppose. I thought the article in the "Athenaeum" was very unjust; but now I feel amply repaid, and I cordially thank you for your sympathy and too warm praise. What labour you have bestowed on your part of the 'Record'! I ought to be ashamed to speak of my amount of work. I thoroughly enjoyed the Sunday, which you and the others spent here, and

I remain, dear Newton, yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, February 27 [1868].


My dear Wallace,

You cannot well imagine how much I have been pleased by what you say about 'Pangenesis.' None of my friends will speak out...Hooker, as far as I understand him, which I hardly do at present, seems to think that the hypothesis is little more than saying that organisms have such and such potentialities. What you say exactly and fully expresses my feeling, viz. that it is a relief to have some feasible explanation of the various facts, which can be given up as soon as any better hypothesis is found. It has certainly been an immense relief to my mind; for I have been stumbling over the subject for years, dimly seeing that some relation existed between the various classes of facts. I now hear from H. Spencer that his views quoted in my foot-note refer to something quite distinct, as you seem to have perceived.

I shall be very glad to hear at some future day your criticisms on the "causes of variability." Indeed I feel sure that I am right about sterility and natural selection...I do not quite understand your case, and we think that a word or two is misplaced. I wish sometime you would consider the case under the following point of view:--If sterility is caused or accumulated through natural selection, than as every degree exists up to absolute barrenness, natural selection must have the power of increasing it. Now take two species, A and B, and assume that they are (by any means) half-sterile, i.e. produce half the full number of offspring. Now try and make (by natural selection) A and B absolutely sterile when crossed, and you will find how difficult it is. I grant indeed, it is certain, that the degree of sterility of the individuals A and B will vary, but any such extra-sterile individuals of, we will say A, if they should hereafter breed with other individuals of A, will bequeath no advantage to their progeny, by which these families will tend to increase in number over other families of A, which are not more sterile when crossed with B. But I do not know that I have made this any clearer than in the chapter in my book. It is a most difficult bit of reasoning, which I have gone over and over again on paper with diagrams.

...Hearty thanks for your letter. You have indeed pleased me, for I had given up the great god Pan as a stillborn deity. I wish you could be induced to make it clear with your admirable powers of elucidation in one of the scientific journals...

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, February 28 [1868].


My dear Hooker,

I have been deeply interested by your letter, and we had a good laugh over Huxley's remark, which was so deuced clever that you could not recollect it. I cannot quite follow your train of thought, for in the last page you admit all that I wish, having apparently denied all, or thought all mere words in the previous pages of your note; but it may be my muddle. I see clearly that any satisfaction which Pan may give will depend on the constitution of each man's mind. If you have arrived already at any similar conclusion, the whole will of course appear stale to you. I heard yesterday from Wallace, who says (excuse horrid vanity), "I can hardly tell you how much I admire the chapter on 'Pangenesis.' It is a POSITIVE COMFORT to me to have any feasible explanation of a difficulty that has always been haunting me, and I shall never be able to give it up till a better one supplies its place, and that I think hardly possible, etc." Now his foregoing [italicised] words express my sentiments exactly and fully: though perhaps I feel the relief extra strongly from having during many years vainly attempted to form some hypothesis. When you or Huxley say that a single cell of a plant, or the stump of an amputated limb, have the "potentiality" of reproducing the whole--or "diffuse an influence," these words give me no positive idea;--but when it is said that the cells of a plant, or stump, include atoms derived from every other cell of the whole organism and capable of development, I gain a distinct idea. But this idea would not be worth a rush, if it applied to one case alone; but it seems to me to apply to all the forms of reproduction-inheritance--metamorphosis-- to the abnormal transposition of organs--to the direct action of the male element on the mother plant, etc. Therefore I fully believe that each cell does ACTUALLY throw off an atom or gemmule of its contents;--but whether or not, this hypothesis serves as a useful connecting link for various grand classes of physiological facts, which at present stand absolutely isolated.

I have touched on the doubtful point (alluded to by Huxley) how far atoms derived from the same cell may become developed into different structure accordingly as they are differently nourished; I advanced as illustrations galls and polypoid excrescences...

It is a real pleasure to me to write to you on this subject, and I should be delighted if we can understand each other; but you must not let your good nature lead you on. Remember, we always fight tooth and nail. We go to London on Tuesday, first for a week to Queen Anne Street, and afterwards to Miss Wedgwood's, in Regent's Park, and stay the whole month, which, as my gardener truly says, is a "terrible thing" for my experiments. CHARLES DARWIN TO W. OGLE. (Dr. William Ogle, now the Superintendent of Statistics to the Registrar-General.)
Down, March 6 [1868].

Dear Sir,

I thank you most sincerely for your letter, which is very interesting to me. I wish I had known of these views of Hippocrates before I had published, for they seem almost identical with mine--merely a change of terms--and an application of them to classes of facts necessarily unknown to the old philosopher. The whole case is a good illustration of how rarely anything is new.

Hippocrates has taken the wind out of my sails, but I care very little about being forestalled. I advance the views merely as a provisional hypothesis, but with the secret expectation that sooner or later some such view will have to be admitted.

...I do not expect the reviewers will be so learned as you: otherwise, no doubt, I shall be accused of wilfully stealing Pangenesis from Hippocrates,--for this is the spirit some reviewers delight to show.


...I am very much obliged to you for sending me so frankly your opinion on Pangenesis, and I am sorry it is unfavourable, but I cannot quite understand your remark on pangenesis, selection, and the struggle for life not being more methodical. I am not at all surprised at your unfavourable verdict; I know many, probably most, will come to the same conclusion. One English Review says it is much too complicated...Some of my friends are enthusiastic on the hypothesis...Sir C. Lyell says to every one, "you may not believe in 'Pangenesis,' but if you once understand it, you will never get it out of your mind." And with this criticism I am perfectly content. All cases of inheritance and reversion and development now appear to me under a new light...

[An extract from a letter to Fritz Muller, though of later date (June), may be given here:--

"Your letter of April 22 has much interested me. I am delighted that you approve of my book, for I value your opinion more than that of almost any one. I have yet hopes that you will think well of Pangenesis. I feel sure that our minds are somewhat alike, and I find it a great relief to have some definite, though hypothetical view, when I reflect on the wonderful transformations of animals,--the re-growth of parts,--and especially the direct action of pollen on the mother-form, etc. It often appears to me almost certain that the characters of the parents are "photographed" on the child, only by means of material atoms derived from each cell in both parents, and developed in the child."]



My dear Gray,

I have been a most ungrateful and ungracious man not to have written to you an immense time ago to thank you heartily for the "Nation", and for all your most kind aid in regard to the American edition [of 'Animals and Plants']. But I have been of late overwhelmed with letters, which I was forced to answer, and so put off writing to you. This morning I received the American edition (which looks capital), with your nice preface, for which hearty thanks. I hope to heaven that the book will succeed well enough to prevent you repenting of your aid. This arrival has put the finishing stroke to my conscience, which will endure its wrongs no longer.

...Your article in the "Nation" [March 19] seems to me very good, and you give an excellent idea of Pangenesis--an infant cherished by few as yet, except his tender parent, but which will live a long life. There is parental presumption for you! You give a good slap at my concluding metaphor (A short abstract of the precipice metaphor is given in Volume I. Dr. Gray's criticism on this point is as follows: "But in Mr. Darwin's parallel, to meet the case of nature according to his own view of it, not only the fragments of rock (answering to variation) should fall, but the edifice (answering to natural selection) should rise, irrespective of will or choice!" But my father's parallel demands that natural selection shall be the architect, not the edifice--the question of design only comes in with regard to the form of the building materials.): undoubtedly I ought to have brought in and contrasted natural and artificial selection; but it seems so obvious to me that natural selection depended on contingencies even more complex than those which must have determined the shape of each fragment at the base of my precipice. What I wanted to show was that in reference to pre-ordainment whatever holds good in the formation of a pouter pigeon holds good in the formation of a natural species of pigeon. I cannot see that this is false. If the right variations occurred, and no others, natural selection would be superfluous. A reviewer in an Edinburgh paper, who treats me with profound contempt, says on this subject that Professor Asa Gray could with the greatest ease smash me into little pieces. (The "Daily Review", April 27, 1868. My father has given rather a highly coloured version of the reviewer's remarks: "We doubt not that Professor Asa Gray...could show that natural simply an instrument in the hands of an omnipotent and omniscient creator." The reviewer goes on to say that the passage in question is a "very melancholy one," and that the theory is the "apotheosis of materialism.")

Believe me, my dear Gray,
Your ungrateful but sincere friend, CHARLES DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO G. BENTHAM. Down, June 23, 1868.


My dear Mr. Bentham,

As your address (Presidential Address to the Linnean Society.) is somewhat of the nature of a verdict from a judge, I do not know whether it is proper for me to do so, but I must and will thank you for the pleasure which you have given me. I am delighted at what you say about my book. I got so tired of it, that for months together I thought myself a perfect fool for having given up so much time in collecting and observing little facts, but now I do not care if a score of common critics speak as contemptuously of the book as did the "Athenaeum". I feel justified in this, for I have so complete a reliance on your judgment that I feel certain that I should have bowed to your judgment had it been as unfavourable as it is the contrary. What you say about Pangenesis quite satisfies me, and is as much perhaps as any one is justified in saying. I have read your whole Address with the greatest interest. It must have cost you a vast amount of trouble. With cordial thanks, pray believe me,

Yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN.

P.S.--I fear that it is not likely that you have a superfluous copy of your Address; if you have, I should much like to send one to Fritz Muller in the interior of Brazil. By the way let me add that I discussed bud-variation chiefly from a belief which is common to several persons, that all variability is related to sexual generation; I wished to show clearly that this was an error.

[The above series of letters may serve to show to some extent the reception which the new book received. Before passing on (in the next chapter) to the 'Descent of Man,' I give a letter referring to the translation of Fritz Muller's book, 'Fur Darwin,' it was originally published in 1864, but the English translation, by Mr. Dallas, which bore the title suggested by Sir C. Lyell, of 'Facts and Arguments for Darwin,' did not appear until 1869:]

CHARLES DARWIN TO F. MULLER. Down, March 16 [1868].


My dear Sir,

Your brother, as you will have heard from him, felt so convinced that you would not object to a translation of 'Fur Darwin' (In a letter to Fritz Muller, my father wrote:--"I am vexed to see that on the title my name is more conspicuous than yours, which I especially objected to, and I cautioned the printers after seeing one proof."), that I have ventured to arrange for a translation. Engelmann has very liberally offered me cliches of the woodcuts for 22 thalers; Mr. Murray has agreed to bring out a translation (and he is our best publisher) on commission, for he would not undertake the work on his own risk; and I have agreed with Mr. W.S. Dallas (who has translated Von Siebold on Parthenogenesis, and many German works, and who writes very good English) to translate the book. He thinks (and he is a good judge) that it is important to have some few corrections or additions, in order to account for a translation appearing so lately [i.e. at such a long interval of time] after the original; so that I hope you will be able to send some...

[Two letters may be placed here as bearing on the spread of Evolutionary ideas in France and Germany:]
CHARLES DARWIN TO A. GAUDRY. Down, January 21 [1868].

Dear Sir,

I thank you for your interesting essay on the influence of the Geological features of the country on the mind and habits of the Ancient Athenians (This appears to refer to M. Gaudry's paper translated in the 'Geol. Mag.,' 1868, page 372.), and for your very obliging letter. I am delighted to hear that you intend to consider the relations of fossil animals in connection with their genealogy; it will afford you a fine field for the exercise of your extensive knowledge and powers of reasoning. Your belief will I suppose, at present, lower you in the estimation of your countrymen; but judging from the rapid spread in all parts of Europe, excepting France, of the belief in the common descent of allied species, I must think that this belief will before long become universal. How strange it is that the country which gave birth to Buffon, the elder Geoffroy, and especially to Lamarck, should now cling so pertinaciously to the belief that species are immutable creations.

My work on Variation, etc., under domestication, will appear in a French translation in a few months' time, and I will do myself the pleasure and honour of directing the publisher to send a copy to you to the same address as this letter.

With sincere respect, I remain, dear sir, Yours very faithfully,

[The next letter is of especial interest, as showing how high a value my father placed on the support of the younger German naturalists:]


CHARLES DARWIN TO W. PREYER. (Now Professor of Physiology at Jena.) March 31, 1868.

...I am delighted to hear that you uphold the doctrine of the Modification of Species, and defend my views. The support which I receive from Germany is my chief ground for hoping that our views will ultimately prevail. To the present day I am continually abused or treated with contempt by writers of my own country; but the younger naturalists are almost all on my side, and sooner or later the public must follow those who make the subject their special study. The abuse and contempt of ignorant writers hurts me very little...

Work On 'Man'


[In the autobiographical chapter in Volume I., my father gives the circumstances which led to his writing the 'Descent of Man.' He states that his collection of facts, begun in 1837 or 1838, was continued for many years without any definite idea of publishing on the subject. The following letter to Mr. Wallace shows that in the period of ill-health and depression about 1864 he despaired of ever being able to do so:]

CHARLES DARWIN TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, [May?] 28 [1864].


Dear Wallace,

I am so much better that I have just finished a paper for Linnean Society (On the three forms, etc., of Lythrum.); but I am not yet at all strong, I felt much disinclination to write, and therefore you must forgive me for not having sooner thanked you for your paper on 'Man' ('Anthropological Review,' March 1864.), received on the 11th. But first let me say that I have hardly ever in my life been more struck by any paper than that on 'Variation,' etc. etc., in the "Reader". ('"Reader", April 16, 1864. "On the Phenomena of Variation," etc. Abstract of a paper read before the Linnean Society, March 17, 1864.) I feel sure that such papers will do more for the spreading of our views on the modification of species than any separate Treatises on the simple subject itself. It is really admirable; but you ought not in the Man paper to speak of the theory as mine; it is just as much yours as mine. One correspondent has already noticed to me your "high-minded" conduct on this head. But now for your Man paper, about which I should like to write more than I can. The great leading idea is quite new to me, viz. that during late ages, the mind will have been modified more than the body; yet I had got as far as to see with you that the struggle between the races of man depended entirely on intellectual and MORAL qualities. The latter part of the paper I can designate only as grand and most eloquently done. I have shown your paper to two or three persons who have been here, and they have been equally struck with it. I am not sure that I go with you on all minor points: when reading Sir G. Grey's account of the constant battles of Australian savages, I remember thinking that natural selection would come in, and likewise with the Esquimaux, with whom the art of fishing and managing canoes is said to be hereditary. I rather differ on the rank, under a classificatory point of view, which you assign to man; I do not think any character simply in excess ought ever to be used for the higher divisions. Ants would not be separated from other hymenopterous insects, however high the instinct of the one, and however low the instincts of the other. With respect to the differences of race, a conjecture has occurred to me that much may be due to the correlation of complexion (and consequently hair) with constitution. Assume that a dusky individual best escaped miasma, and you will readily see what I mean. I persuaded the Director-General of the Medical Department of the Army to send printed forms to the surgeons of all regiments in tropical countries to ascertain this point, but I dare say I shall never get any returns. Secondly, I suspect that a sort of sexual selection has been the most powerful means of changing the races of man. I can show that the different races have a widely different standard of beauty. Among savages the most powerful men will have the pick of the women, and they will generally leave the most descendants. I have collected a few notes on man, but I do not suppose that I shall ever use them. Do you intend to follow out your views, and if so, would you like at some future time to have my few references and notes? I am sure I hardly know whether they are of any value, and they are at present in a state of chaos.

There is much more that I should like to write, but I have not strength.


Believe me, dear Wallace, yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN.

P.S.--Our aristocracy is handsomer (more hideous according to a Chinese or Negro) than the middle classes, from (having the) pick of the women; but oh, what a scheme is primogeniture for destroying natural selection! I fear my letter will be barely intelligible to you.

[In February 1867, when the manuscript of 'Animals and Plants' had been sent to Messrs. Clowes to be printed, and before the proofs began to come in, he had an interval of spare time, and began a "chapter on Man," but he soon found it growing under his hands, and determined to publish it separately as a "very small volume."

The work was interrupted by the necessity of correcting the proofs of 'Animals and Plants,' and by some botanical work, but was resumed in the following year, 1868, the moment he could give himself up to it.

He recognized with regret the gradual change in his mind that rendered continuous work more and more necessary to him as he grew older. This is expressed in a letter to Sir J.D. Hooker, June 17, 1868, which repeats to some extent what is expressed in the Autobiography:--

"I am glad you were at the 'Messiah,' it is the one thing that I should like to hear again, but I dare say I should find my soul too dried up to appreciate it as in old days; and then I should feel very flat, for it is a horrid bore to feel as I constantly do, that I am a withered leaf for every subject except Science. It sometimes makes me hate Science, though God knows I ought to be thankful for such a perennial interest, which makes me forget for some hours every day my accursed stomach."

The work on Man was interrupted by illness in the early summer of 1868, and he left home on July 16th for Freshwater, in the Isle of Wight, where he remained with his family until August 21st. Here he made the acquaintance of Mrs. Cameron. She received the whole family with open-hearted kindness and hospitality, and my father always retained a warm feeling of friendship for her. She made an excellent photograph of him, which was published with the inscription written by him: "I like this photograph very much better than any other which has been taken of me." Further interruption occurred in the autumn so that continuous work on the 'Descent of Man' did not begin until 1869. The following letters give some idea of the earlier work in 1867:]

CHARLES DARWIN TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, February 22, [1867?].


My dear Wallace,

I am hard at work on sexual selection, and am driven half mad by the number of collateral points which require investigation, such as the relative number of the two sexes, and especially on polygamy. Can you aid me with respect to birds which have strongly marked secondary sexual characters, such as birds of paradise, humming-birds, the Rupicola, or any other such cases? Many gallinaceous birds certainly are polygamous. I suppose that birds may be known not to be polygamous if they are seen during the whole breeding season to associate in pairs, or if the male incubates or aids in feeding the young. Will you have the kindness to turn this in your mind? But it is a shame to trouble you now that, as I am HEARTILY glad to hear, you are at work on your Malayan travels. I am fearfully puzzled how far to extend your protective views with respect to the females in various classes. The more I work the more important sexual selection apparently comes out.

Can butterflies be polygamous! i.e. will one male impregnate more than one female? Forgive me troubling you, and I dare say I shall have to ask forgiveness again...


CHARLES DARWIN TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, February 23 [1867].


Dear Wallace,

I much regretted that I was unable to call on you, but after Monday I was unable even to leave the house. On Monday evening I called on Bates, and put a difficulty before him, which he could not answer, and, as on some former similar occasion, his first suggestion was, "You had better ask Wallace." My difficulty is, why are caterpillars sometimes so beautifully and artistically coloured? Seeing that many are coloured to escape danger, I can hardly attribute their bright colour in other cases to mere physical conditions. Bates says the most gaudy caterpillar he ever saw in Amazonia (of a sphinx) was conspicuous at the distance of yards, from its black and red colours, whilst feeding on large green leaves. If any one objected to male butterflies having been made beautiful by sexual selection, and asked why should they not have been made beautiful as well as their caterpillars, what would you answer? I could not answer, but should maintain my ground. Will you think over this, and some time, either by letter or when we meet, tell me what you think? Also I want to know whether your FEMALE mimetic butterfly is more beautiful and brighter than the male. When next in London I must get you to show me your kingfishers. My health is a dreadful evil; I failed in half my engagements during this last visit to London.
Believe me, yours very sincerely, C. DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, February 26 [1867].


My dear Wallace,

Bates was quite right; you are the man to apply to in a difficulty. I never heard anything more ingenious than your suggestion (The suggestion that conspicuous caterpillars or perfect insects (e.g. white butterflies), which are distasteful to birds, are protected by being easily recognised and avoided. See Mr. Wallace's 'Natural Selection,' 2nd edition, page 117.), and I hope you may be able to prove it true. That is a splendid fact about the white moths; it warms one's very blood to see a theory thus almost proved to be true. (Mr. Jenner Weir's observations published in the Transactions of the Entomolog. Soc. (1869 and 1870) give strong support to the theory in question.) With respect to the beauty of male butterflies, I must as yet think it is due to sexual selection. There is some evidence that dragon-flies are attracted by bright colours; but what leads me to the above belief is, so many male Orthoptera and Cicadas having musical instruments. This being the case, the analogy of birds makes me believe in sexual selection with respect to colour in insects. I wish I had strength and time to make some of the experiments suggested by you, but I thought butterflies would not pair in confinement. I am sure I have heard of some such difficulty. Many years ago I had a dragon-fly painted with gorgeous colours, but I never had an opportunity of fairly trying it.

The reason of my being so much interested just at present about sexual selection is, that I have almost resolved to publish a little essay on the origin of Mankind, and I still strongly think (though I failed to convince you, and this, to me, is the heaviest blow possible) that sexual selection has been the main agent in forming the races of man.

By the way, there is another subject which I shall introduce in my essay, namely, expression of countenance. Now, do you happen to know by any odd chance a very goodnatured and acute observer in the Malay Archipelago, who you think would make a few easy observations for me on the expression of the Malays when excited by various emotions? For in this case I would send to such person a list of queries. I thank you for your most interesting letter, and remain,

Yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN.




My dear Wallace,

I thank you much for your two notes. The case of Julia Pastrana (A bearded woman having an irregular double set of teeth. 'Animals and Plants,' volume ii. page 328.) is a splendid addition to my other cases of correlated teeth and hair, and I will add it in correcting the press of my present volume. Pray let me hear in the course of the summer if you get any evidence about the gaudy caterpillars. I should much like to give (or quote if published) this idea of yours, if in any way supported, as suggested by you. It will, however, be a long time hence, for I can see that sexual selection is growing into quite a large subject, which I shall introduce into my essay on Man, supposing that I ever publish it. I had intended giving a chapter on man, inasmuch as many call him (not QUITE truly) an eminently domesticated animal, but I found the subject too large for a chapter. Nor shall I be capable of treating the subject well, and my sole reason for taking it up is, that I am pretty well convinced that sexual selection has played an important part in the formation of races, and sexual selection has always been a subject which has interested me much. I have been very glad to see your impression from memory on the expression of Malays. I fully agree with you that the subject is in no way an important one; it is simply a "hobby-horse" with me, about twenty-seven years old; and AFTER thinking that I would write an essay on man, it flashed on me that I could work in some "supplemental remarks on expression." After the horrid, tedious, dull work of my present huge, and I fear unreadable, book ['The Variation of Animals and Plants'], I thought I would amuse myself with my hobby-horse. The subject is, I think, more curious and more amenable to scientific treatment than you seem willing to allow. I want, anyhow, to upset Sir C. Bell's view, given in his most interesting work, 'The Anatomy of Expression,' that certain muscles have been given to man solely that he may reveal to other men his feelings. I want to try and show how expressions have arisen. That is a good suggestion about newspapers, but my experience tells me that private applications are generally most fruitful. I will, however, see if I can get the queries inserted in some Indian paper. I do not know the names or addresses of any other papers.

...My two female amanuenses are busy with friends, and I fear this scrawl will give you much trouble to read. With many thanks,


Yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN.


[The following letter may be worth giving, as an example of his sources of information, and as showing what were the thoughts at this time occupying him:]


CHARLES DARWIN TO F. MULLER. Down, February 22 [1867].

...Many thanks for all the curious facts about the unequal number of the sexes in Crustacea, but the more I investigate this subject the deeper I sink in doubt and difficulty. Thanks also for the confirmation of the rivalry of Cicadae. I have often reflected with surprise on the diversity of the means for producing music with insects, and still more with birds. We thus get a high idea of the importance of song in the animal kingdom. Please to tell me where I can find any account of the auditory organs in the Orthoptera. Your facts are quite new to me. Scudder has described an insect in the Devonian strata, furnished with a stridulating apparatus. I believe he is to be trusted, and, if so, the apparatus is of astonishing antiquity. After reading Landois's paper I have been working at the stridulating organ in the Lamellicorn beetles, in expectation of finding it sexual; but I have only found it as yet in two cases, and in these it was equally developed in both sexes. I wish you would look at any of your common lamellicorns, and take hold of both males and females, and observe whether they make the squeaking or grating noise equally. If they do not, you could, perhaps, send me a male and female in a light little box. How curious it is that there should be a special organ for an object apparently so unimportant as squeaking. Here is another point; have you any toucans? if so, ask any trustworthy hunter whether the beaks of the males, or of both sexes, are more brightly coloured during the breeding season than at other times of the year...Heaven knows whether I shall ever live to make use of half the valuable facts which you have communicated to me! Your paper on Balanus armatus, translated by Mr. Dallas, has just appeared in our 'Annals and Magazine of Natural History,' and I have read it with the greatest interest. I never thought that I should live to hear of a hybrid Balanus! I am very glad that you have seen the cement tubes; they appear to me extremely curious, and, as far as I know, you are the first man who has verified my observations on this point.

With most cordial thanks for all your kindness, my dear Sir,


Yours very sincerely, C. DARWIN.




My dear Sir,

I return you my SINCERE thanks for your long letter, which I consider a great compliment, and which is quite full of most interesting facts and views. Your references and remarks will be of great use should a new edition of my book ('Variation of Animals and Plants.') be demanded, but this is hardly probable, for the whole edition was sold within the first week, and another large edition immediately reprinted, which I should think would supply the demand for ever. You ask me when I shall publish on the 'Variation of Species in a State of Nature.' I have had the MS. for another volume almost ready during several years, but I was so much fatigued by my last book that I determined to amuse myself by publishing a short essay on the 'Descent of Man.' I was partly led to do this by having been taunted that I concealed my views, but chiefly from the interest which I had long taken in the subject. Now this essay has branched out into some collateral subjects, and I suppose will take me more than a year to complete. I shall then begin on 'Species,' but my health makes me a very slow workman. I hope that you will excuse these details, which I have given to show that you will have plenty of time to publish your views first, which will be a great advantage to me. Of all the curious facts which you mention in your letter, I think that of the strong inheritance of the scalpmuscles has interested me most. I presume that you would not object to my giving this very curious case on your authority. As I believe all anatomists look at the scalp-muscles as a remnant of the Panniculus carnosus which is common to all the lower quadrupeds, I should look at the unusual development and inheritance of these muscles as probably a case of reversion. Your observation on so many remarkable men in noble families having been illegitimate is extremely curious; and should I ever meet any one capable of writing an essay on this subject, I will mention your remarks as a good suggestion. Dr. Hooker has several times remarked to me that morals and politics would be very interesting if discussed like any branch of natural history, and this is nearly to the same effect with your remarks...

CHARLES DARWIN TO L. AGASSIZ. Down, August 19, 1868.


Dear Sir,

I thank you cordially for your very kind letter. I certainly thought that you had formed so low an opinion of my scientific work that it might have appeared indelicate in me to have asked for information from you, but it never occurred to me that my letter would have been shown to you. I have never for a moment doubted your kindness and generosity, and I hope you will not think it presumption in me to say, that when we met, many years ago, at the British Association at Southampton, I felt for you the warmest admiration.

Your information on the Amazonian fishes has interested me EXTREMELY, and tells me exactly what I wanted to know. I was aware, through notes given me by Dr. Gunther, that many fishes differed sexually in colour and other characters, but I was particularly anxious to learn how far this was the case with those fishes in which the male, differently from what occurs with most birds, takes the largest share in the care of the ova and young. Your letter has not only interested me much, but has greatly gratified me in other respects, and I return you my sincere thanks for your kindness. Pray believe me, my dear Sir,

Yours very faithfully, CHARLES DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, Sunday, August 23 [1868].


My dear old Friend,

I have received your note. I can hardly say how pleased I have been at the success of your address (Sir Joseph Hooker was President of the British Association at the Norwich Meeting in 1868.), and of the whole meeting. I have seen the "Times", "Telegraph", "Spectator", and "Athenaeum", and have heard of other favourable newspapers, and have ordered a bundle. There is a "chorus of praise." The "Times" reported miserably, i.e. as far as errata was concerned; but I was very glad at the leader, for I thought the way you brought in the megalithic monuments most happy. (The British Association was desirous of interesting the Government in certain modern cromlech builders, the Khasia race of East Bengal, in order that their megalithic monuments might be efficiently described.) I particularly admired Tyndall's little speech (Professor Tyndall was President of Section A.)...The "Spectator" pitches a little into you about Theology, in accordance with its usual spirit...
Your great success has rejoiced my heart. I have just carefully read the whole address in the "Athenaeum"; and though, as you know, I liked it very much when you read it to me, yet, as I was trying all the time to find fault, I missed to a certain extent the effect as a whole; and this now appears to me most striking and excellent. How you must rejoice at all your bothering labour and anxiety having had so grand an end. I must say a word about myself; never has such a eulogium been passed on me, and it makes me very proud. I cannot get over my AMAZEMENT at what you say about my botanical work. By Jove, as far as my memory goes, you have strengthened instead of weakened some of the expressions. What is far more important than anything personal, is the conviction which I feel that you will have immensely advanced the belief in the evolution of species. This will follow from the publicity of the occasion, your position, so responsible, as President, and your own high reputation. It will make a great step in public opinion, I feel sure, and I had not thought of this before. The "Athenaeum" takes your snubbing (Sir Joseph Hooker made some reference to the review of 'Animals and Plants' in the "Athenaeum" of February 15, 1868.) with the utmost mildness. I certainly do rejoice over the snubbing, and hope [the reviewer] will feel it a little. Whenever you have SPARE time to write again, tell me whether any astronomers (In discussing the astronomer's objection to Evolution, namely that our globe has not existed for a long enough period to give time for the assumed transmutation of living beings, Hooker challenged Whewell's dictum that, astronomy is the queen of sciences--the only perfect science.) took your remarks in ill part; as they now stand they do not seem at all too harsh and presumptuous. Many of your sentences strike me as extremely felicitous and eloquent. That of Lyell's "under-pinning" (After a eulogium on Sir Charles Lyell's heroic renunciation of his old views in accepting Evolution, Sir J.D. Hooker continued, "Well may he be proud of a superstructure, raised on the foundations of an insecure doctrine, when he finds that he can underpin it and substitute a new foundation; and after all is finished, survey his edifice, not only more secure but more harmonious in its proportion than it was before."), is capital. Tell me, was Lyell pleased? I am so glad that you remembered my old dedication. (The 'Naturalist's Voyage' was dedicated to Lyell.) Was Wallace pleased?

How about photographs? Can you spare time for a line to our dear Mrs. Cameron? She came to see us off, and loaded us with presents of photographs, and Erasmus called after her, "Mrs. Cameron, there are six people in this house all in love with you." When I paid her, she cried out, "Oh what a lot of money!" and ran to boast to her husband.

I must not write any more, though I am in tremendous spirits at your brilliant success.


Yours ever affectionately, C. DARWIN.

[In the "Athenaeum" of November 29, 1868, appeared an article which was in fact a reply to Sir Joseph Hooker's remarks at Norwich. He seems to have consulted my father as to the wisdom of answering the article. My father wrote on September 1:

"In my opinion Dr. Joseph Dalton Hooker need take no notice of the attack in the "Athenaeum" in reference to Mr. Charles Darwin. What an ass the man is to think he cuts one to the quick by giving one's Christian name in full. How transparently false is the statement that my sole groundwork is from pigeons, because I state I have worked them out more fully than other beings! He muddles together two books of Flourens."

The following letter refers to a paper ('Transactions of the Ottawa Academy of Natural Sciences,' 1868, by John D. Caton, late Chief Justice of Illinois.) by Judge Caton, of which my father often spoke with admiration:]

CHARLES DARWIN TO JOHN D. CATON. Down, September 18, 1868.


Dear Sir,


I beg leave to thank you very sincerely for your kindness in sending me, through Mr. Walsh, your admirable paper on American Deer.

It is quite full of most interesting observations, stated with the greatest clearness. I have seldom read a paper with more interest, for it abounds with facts of direct use for my work. Many of them consist of little points which hardly any one besides yourself has observed, or perceived the importance of recording. I would instance the age at which the horns are developed (a point on which I have lately been in vain searching for information), the rudiment of horns in the female elk, and especially the different nature of the plants devoured by the deer and elk, and several other points. With cordial thanks for the pleasure and instruction which you have afforded me, and with high respect for your power of observation, I beg leave to remain, dear Sir,

Yours faithfully and obliged, CHARLES DARWIN.

[The following extract from a letter (September 24, 1868) to the Marquis de Saporta, the eminent palaeo-botanist, refers to the growth of evolutionary views in France (In 1868 he was pleased at being asked to authorise a French translation of his 'Naturalist's Voyage.':

"As I have formerly read with great interest many of your papers on fossil plants, you may believe with what high satisfaction I hear that you are a believer in the gradual evolution of species. I had supposed that my book on the 'Origin of Species' had made very little impression in France, and therefore it delights me to hear a different statement from you. All the great authorities of the Institute seem firmly resolved to believe in the immutability of species, and this has always astonished me...almost the one exception, as far as I know, is M. Gaudry, and I think he will be soon one of the chief leaders in Zoological Palaeontology in Europe; and now I am delighted to hear that in the sister department of Botany you take nearly the same view."]

CHARLES DARWIN TO E. HAECKEL. Down, November 19 [1868].

My dear Haeckel, I must write to you again, for two reasons. Firstly, to thank you for your letter about your baby, which has quite charmed both me and my wife; I heartily congratulate you on its birth. I remember being surprised in my own case how soon the paternal instincts became developed, and in you they seem to be unusually strong,...I hope the large blue eyes and the principles of inheritance will make your child as good a naturalist as you are; but, judging from my own experience, you will be astonished to find how the whole mental disposition of your children changes with advancing years. A young child, and the same when nearly grown, sometimes differ almost as much as do a caterpillar and butterfly.

The second point is to congratulate you on the projected translation of your great work ('Generelle Morphologie,' 1866. No English translation of this book has appeared.), about which I heard from Huxley last Sunday. I am heartily glad of it, but how it has been brought about, I know not, for a friend who supported the supposed translation at Norwich, told me he thought there would be no chance of it. Huxley tells me that you consent to omit and shorten some parts, and I am confident that this is very wise. As I know your object is to instruct the public, you will assuredly thus get many more readers in England. Indeed, I believe that almost every book would be improved by condensation. I have been reading a good deal of your last book ('Die Naturliche SchopfungsGeschichte,' 1868. It was translated and published in 1876, under the title, 'The History of Creation.'), and the style is beautifully clear and easy to me; but why it should differ so much in this respect from your great work I cannot imagine. I have not yet read the first part, but began with the chapter on Lyell and myself, which you will easily believe pleased me VERY MUCH. I think Lyell, who was apparently much pleased by your sending him a copy, is also much gratified by this chapter. (See Lyell's interesting letter to Haeckel. 'Life of Sir C. Lyell,' ii. page 435.) Your chapters on the affinities and genealogy of the animal kingdom strike me as admirable and full of original thought. Your boldness, however, sometimes makes me tremble, but as Huxley remarked, some one must be bold enough to make a beginning in drawing up tables of descent. Although you fully admit the imperfection of the geological record, yet Huxley agreed with me in thinking that you are sometimes rather rash in venturing to say at what periods the several groups first appeared. I have this advantage over you, that I remember how wonderfully different any statement on this subject made 20 years ago, would have been to what would now be the case, and I expect the next 20 years will make quite as great a difference. Reflect on the monocotyledonous plant just discovered in the PRIMORDIAL formation in Sweden.

I repeat how glad I am at the prospect of the translation, for I fully believe that this work and all your works will have a great influence in the advancement of Science.


Believe me, my dear Haeckel, your sincere friend, CHARLES DARWIN.


[It was in November of this year that he sat for the bust by Mr. Woolner: he wrote:--

"I should have written long ago, but I have been pestered with stupid letters, and am undergoing the purgatory of sitting for hours to Woolner, who, however, is wonderfully pleasant, and lightens as much as man can, the penance; as far as I can judge, it will make a fine bust."

If I may criticise the work of so eminent a sculptor as Mr. Woolner, I should say that the point in which the bust fails somewhat as a portrait, is that it has a certain air, almost of pomposity, which seems to me foreign to my father's expression.]


[At the beginning of the year he was at work in preparing the fifth edition of the 'Origin.' This work was begun on the day after Christmas, 1868, and was continued for "forty-six days," as he notes in his diary, i.e. until February 10th, 1869. He then, February 11th, returned to Sexual Selection, and continued at this subject (excepting for ten days given up to Orchids, and a week in London), until June 10th, when he went with his family to North Wales, where he remained about seven weeks, returning to Down on July 31st.

Caerdeon, the house where he stayed, is built on the north shore of the beautiful Barmouth estuary, and is pleasantly placed, in being close to wild hill country behind, as well as to the picturesque wooded "hummocks," between the steeper hills and the river. My father was ill and somewhat depressed throughout this visit, and I think felt saddened at being imprisoned by his want of strength, and unable even to reach the hills over which he had once wandered for days together.

He wrote from Caerdeon to Sir J.D. Hooker (June 22nd):--

"We have been here for ten days, how I wish it was possible for you to pay us a visit here; we have a beautiful house with a terraced garden, and a really magnificent view of Cader, right opposite. Old Cader is a grand fellow, and shows himself off superbly with every changing light. We remain here till the end of July, when the H. Wedgwoods have the house. I have been as yet in a very poor way; it seems as soon as the stimulus of mental work stops, my whole strength gives way. As yet I have hardly crawled half a mile from the house, and then have been fearfully fatigued. It is enough to make one wish oneself quiet in a comfortable tomb."

With regard to the fifth edition of the 'Origin,' he wrote to Mr. Wallace (January 22, 1869):--

"I have been interrupted in my regular work in preparing a new edition of the 'Origin,' which has cost me much labour, and which I hope I have considerably improved in two or three important points. I always thought individual differences more important than single variations, but now I have come to the conclusion that they are of paramount importance, and in this I believe I agree with you. Fleeming Jenkin's arguments have convinced me."

This somewhat obscure sentence was explained, February 2, in another letter to Mr. Wallace:--
"I must have expressed myself atrociously; I meant to say exactly the reverse of what you have understood. F. Jenkin argued in the 'North British Review' against single variations ever being perpetuated, and has convinced me, though not in quite so broad a manner as here put. I always thought individual differences more important; but I was blind and thought that single variations might be preserved much oftener than I now see is possible or probable. I mentioned this in my former note merely because I believed that you had come to a similar conclusion, and I like much to be in accord with you. I believe I was mainly deceived by single variations offering such simple illustrations, as when man selects."

The late Mr. Fleeming Jenkin's review, on the 'Origin of Species,' was published in the 'North British Review' for June 1867. It is not a little remarkable that the criticisms, which my father, as I believe, felt to be the most valuable ever made on his views should have come, not from a professed naturalist but from a Professor of Engineering.

It is impossible to give in a short compass an account of Fleeming Jenkin's argument. My father's copy of the paper (ripped out of the volume as usual, and tied with a bit of string) is annotated in pencil in many places. I may quote one passage opposite which my father has written "good sneers"--but it should be remembered that he used the word "sneer" in rather a special sense, not as necessarily implying a feeling of bitterness in the critic, but rather in the sense of "banter." Speaking of the 'true believer,' Fleeming Jenkin says, page 293:--

"He can invent trains of ancestors of whose existence there is no evidence; he can marshal hosts of equally imaginary foes; he can call up continents, floods, and peculiar atmospheres; he can dry up oceans, split islands, and parcel out eternity at will; surely with these advantages he must be a dull fellow if he cannot scheme some series of animals and circumstances explaining our assumed difficulty quite naturally. Feeling the difficulty of dealing with adversaries who command so huge a domain of fancy, we will abandon these arguments, and trust to those which at least cannot be assailed by mere efforts of imagination."

In the fifth edition of the 'Origin,' my father altered a passage in the Historical Sketch (fourth edition page xviii.). He thus practically gave up the difficult task of understanding whether or no Sir R. Owen claims to have discovered the principle of Natural Selection. Adding, "As far as the mere enunciation of the principle of Natural Selection is concerned, it is quite immaterial whether or not Professor Owen preceded me, for both of us...were long ago preceded by Dr. Wells and Mr. Matthew."

A somewhat severe critique on the fifth edition, by Mr. John Robertson, appeared in the "Athenaeum", August 14, 1869. The writer comments with some little bitterness on the success of the 'Origin:' "Attention is not acceptance. Many editions do not mean real success. The book has sold; the guess has been talked over; and the circulation and discussion sum up the significance of the editions." Mr. Robertson makes the true, but misleading statement: "Mr. Darwin prefaces his fifth English edition with an Essay, which he calls 'An Historical Sketch,' etc." As a matter of fact the Sketch appeared in the third edition in 1861.
Mr. Robertson goes on to say that the Sketch ought to be called a collection of extracts anticipatory or corroborative of the hypothesis of Natural Selection. "For no account is given of any hostile opinions. The fact is very significant. This historical sketch thus resembles the histories of the reign of Louis XVIII., published after the Restoration, from which the Republic and the Empire, Robespierre and Buonaparte were omitted."

The following letter to Prof. Victor Carus gives an idea of the character of the new edition of the 'Origin:']



...I have gone very carefully through the whole, trying to make some parts clearer, and adding a few discussions and facts of some importance. The new edition is only two pages at the end longer than the old; though in one part nine pages in advance, for I have condensed several parts and omitted some passages. The translation I fear will cause you a great deal of trouble; the alterations took me six weeks, besides correcting the press; you ought to make a special agreement with M. Koch [the publisher]. Many of the corrections are only a few words, but they have been made from the evidence on various points appearing to have become a little stronger or weaker.

Thus I have been led to place somewhat more value on the definite and direct action of external conditions; to think the lapse of time, as measured by years, not quite so great as most geologists have thought; and to infer that single variations are of even less importance, in comparison with individual differences, than I formerly thought. I mention these points because I have been thus led to alter in many places A FEW WORDS; and unless you go through the whole new edition, one part will not agree with another, which would be a great blemish...

[The desire that his views might spread in France was always strong with my father, and he was therefore justly annoyed to find that in 1869 the Editor of the first French edition had brought out a third edition without consulting the author. He was accordingly glad to enter into an arrangement for a French translation of the fifth edition; this was undertaken by M. Reinwald, with whom he continued to have pleasant relations as the publisher of many of his books into French.

He wrote to Sir J.D. Hooker:--

"I must enjoy myself and tell you about Mdlle. C. Royer, who translated the 'Origin' into French, and for whose second edition I took infinite trouble. She has now just brought out a third edition without informing me, so that all the corrections, etc., in the fourth and fifth English editions are lost. Besides her enormously long preface to the first edition, she has added a second preface abusing me like a pick-pocket for Pangenesis, which of course has no relation to the 'Origin.' So I wrote to Paris; and Reinwald agrees to bring out at once a new translation from the fifth English edition, in competition with her third edition...This fact shows that "evolution of species" must at last be spreading in France." With reference to the spread of Evolution among the orthodox, the following letter is of some interest. In March he received, from the author, a copy of a lecture by Rev. T.R.R. Stebbing, given before the Torquay Natural History Society, February 1, 1869, bearing the title "Darwinism." My father wrote to Mr. Stebbing:]

Dear Sir,

I am very much obliged to you for your kindness in sending me your spirited and interesting lecture; if a layman had delivered the same address, he would have done good service in spreading what, as I hope and believe, is to a large extent the truth; but a clergyman in delivering such an address does, as it appears to me, much more good by his power to shake ignorant prejudices, and by setting, if I may be permitted to say so, an admirable example of liberality.

With sincere respect, I beg leave to remain, Dear Sir, yours faithfully and obliged, CHARLES DARWIN.

[The references to the subject of expression in the following letter are explained by the fact that my father's original intention was to give his essay on this subject as a chapter in the 'Descent of Man,' which in its turn grew, as we have seen, out of a proposed chapter in 'Animals and Plants:']

CHARLES DARWIN TO F. MULLER. Down, February 22 [1869?].

...Although you have aided me to so great an extent in many ways, I am going to beg for any information on two other subjects. I am preparing a discussion on "Sexual Selection," and I want much to know how low down in the animal scale sexual selection of a particular kind extends. Do you know of any lowly organised animals, in which the sexes are separated, and in which the male differs from the female in arms of offence, like the horns and tusks of male mammals, or in gaudy plumage and ornaments, as with birds and butterflies? I do not refer to secondary sexual characters, by which the male is able to discover the female, like the plumed antennae of moths, or by which the male is enabled to seize the female, like the curious pincers described by you in some of the lower Crustaceans. But what I want to know is, how low in the scale sexual differences occur which require some degree of self-consciousness in the males, as weapons by which they fight for the female, or ornaments which attract the opposite sex. Any differences between males and females which follow different habits of life would have to be excluded. I think you will easily see what I wish to learn. A priori, it would never have been anticipated that insects would have been attracted by the beautiful colouring of the opposite sex, or by the sounds emitted by the various musical instruments of the male Orthoptera. I know no one so likely to answer this question as yourself, and should be grateful for any information, however small.

My second subject refers to expression of countenance, to which I have long attended, and on which I feel a keen interest; but to which, unfortunately, I did not attend when I had the opportunity of observing various races of man. It has occurred to me that you might, without much trouble, make a FEW observations for me, in the course of some months, on Negroes, or possibly on native South Americans, though I care most about Negroes; accordingly I enclose some questions as a guide, and if you could answer me even one or two I should feel truly obliged. I am thinking of writing a little essay on the Origin of Mankind, as I have been taunted with concealing my opinions, and I should do this immediately after the completion of my present book. In this case I should add a chapter on the cause or meaning of expression...

[The remaining letters of this year deal chiefly with the books, reviews, etc., which interested him.]


CHARLES DARWIN TO H. THIEL. Down, February 25, 1869.


Dear Sir,

On my return home after a short absence, I found your very courteous note, and the pamphlet ('Ueber einige Formen der Landwirthschaftlichen Genossenschaften.' by Dr. H. Thiel, then of the Agricultural Station at Poppelsdorf.), and I hasten to thank you for both, and for the very honourable mention which you make of my name. You will readily believe how much interested I am in observing that you apply to moral and social questions analogous views to those which I have used in regard to the modification of species. It did not occur to me formerly that my views could be extended to such widely different, and most important, subjects. With much respect, I beg leave to remain, dear Sir,

Yours faithfully and obliged, CHARLES DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO T.H. HUXLEY. Down, March 19 [1869].


My dear Huxley,

Thanks for your 'Address.' (In his 'Anniversary Address' to the Geological Society, 1869, Mr. Huxley criticised Sir William Thomson's paper ('Trans. Geol. Soc., Glasgow,' volume iii.) "On Geological Time.") People complain of the unequal distribution of wealth, but it is a much greater shame and injustice that any one man should have the power to write so many brilliant essays as you have lately done. There is no one who writes like you...If I were in your shoes, I should tremble for my life. I agree with all you say, except that I must think that you draw too great a distinction between the evolutionists and the uniformitarians.

I find that the few sentences which I have sent to press in the 'Origin' about the age of the world will do fairly well...
Ever yours, C. DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, March 22 [1869].


My dear Wallace,

I have finished your book ('The Malay Archipelago,' etc., 1869.); it seems to me excellent, and at the same time most pleasant to read. That you ever returned alive is wonderful after all your risks from illness and sea voyages, especially that most interesting one to Waigiou and back. Of all the impressions which I have received from your book, the strongest is that your perseverance in the cause of science was heroic. Your descriptions of catching the splendid butterflies have made me quite envious, and at the same time have made me feel almost young again, so vividly have they brought before my mind old days when I collected, though I never made such captures as yours. Certainly collecting is the best sport in the world. I shall be astonished if your book has not a great success; and your splendid generalizations on Geographical Distribution, with which I am familiar from your papers, will be new to most of your readers. I think I enjoyed most the Timor case, as it is best demonstrated; but perhaps Celebes is really the most valuable. I should prefer looking at the whole Asiatic continent as having formerly been more African in its fauna, than admitting the former existence of a continent across the Indian Ocean...

[The following letter refers to Mr. Wallace's article in the April number of the 'Quarterly Review' (My father wrote to Mr. Murray: "The article by Wallace is inimitably good, and it is a great triumph that such an article should appear in the 'Quarterly,' and will make the Bishop of Oxford and -- gnash their teeth."), 1869, which to a large extent deals with the tenth edition of Sir Charles Lyell's 'Principles,' published in 1867 and 1868. The review contains a striking passage on Sir Charles Lyell's confession of evolutionary faith in the tenth edition of his 'Principles,' which is worth quoting: "The history of science hardly presents so striking an instance of youthfulness of mind in advanced life as is shown by this abandonment of opinions so long held and so powerfully advocated; and if we bear in mind the extreme caution, combined with the ardent love of truth which characterise every work which our author has produced, we shall be convinced that so great a change was not decided on without long and anxious deliberation, and that the views now adopted must indeed be supported by arguments of overwhelming force. If for no other reason than that Sir Charles Lyell in his tenth edition has adopted it, the theory of Mr. Darwin deserves an attentive and respectful consideration from every earnest seeker after truth."]

CHARLES DARWIN TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, April 14, 1869.

My dear Wallace, I have been wonderfully interested by your article, and I should think Lyell will be much gratified by it. I declare if I had been editor, and had the power of directing you, I should have selected for discussion the very points which you have chosen. I have often said to younger geologists (for I began in the year 1830) that they did not know what a revolution Lyell had effected; nevertheless, your extracts from Cuvier have quite astonished me. Though not able really to judge, I am inclined to put more confidence in Croll than you seem to do; but I have been much struck by many of your remarks on degradation. Thomson's views of the recent age of the world have been for some time one of my sorest troubles, and so I have been glad to read what you say. Your exposition of Natural Selection seems to me inimitably good; there never lived a better expounder than you. I was also much pleased at your discussing the difference between our views and Lamarck's. One sometimes sees the odious expression, "Justice to myself compels me to say," etc., but you are the only man I ever heard of who persistently does himself an injustice, and never demands justice. Indeed, you ought in the review to have alluded to your paper in the 'Linnean Journal,' and I feel sure all our friends will agree in this. But you cannot "Burke" yourself, however much you may try, as may be seen in half the articles which appear. I was asked but the other day by a German professor for your paper, which I sent him. Altogether I look at your article as appearing in the 'Quarterly' as an immense triumph for our cause. I presume that your remarks on Man are those to which you alluded in your note. If you had not told me I should have thought that they had been added by some one else. As you expected, I differ grievously from you, and I am very sorry for it. I can see no necessity for calling in an additional and proximate cause in regard to man. (Mr. Wallace points out that any one acquainted merely with the "unaided productions of nature," might reasonably doubt whether a dray-horse, for example, could have been developed by the power of man directing the "action of the laws of variation, multiplication, and survival, for his own purpose. We know, however, that this has been done, and we must therefore admit the possibility that in the development of the human race, a higher intelligence has guided the same laws for nobler ends.") But the subject is too long for a letter. I have been particularly glad to read your discussion because I am now writing and thinking much about man.

I hope that your Malay book sells well; I was extremely pleased with the article in the 'Quarterly Journal of Science,' inasmuch as it is thoroughly appreciative of your work: alas! you will probably agree with what the writer says about the uses of the bamboo.

I hear that there is also a good article in the "Saturday Review", but have heard nothing more about it. Believe me my dear Wallace,


Yours ever sincerely, CH. DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, May 4 [1869].

My dear Lyell, I have been applied to for some photographs (carte de visite) to be copied to ornament the diplomas of honorary members of a new Society in Servia! Will you give me one for this purpose? I possess only a full-length one of you in my own album, and the face is too small, I think, to be copied.

I hope that you get on well with your work, and have satisfied yourself on the difficult point of glacier lakes. Thank heaven, I have finished correcting the new edition of the 'Origin,' and am at my old work of Sexual Selection.

Wallace's article struck me as ADMIRABLE; how well he brought out the revolution which you effected some 30 years ago. I thought I had fully appreciated the revolution, but I was astounded at the extracts from Cuvier. What a good sketch of natural selection! but I was dreadfully disappointed about Man, it seems to me incredibly strange...; and had I not known to the contrary, would have sworn it had been inserted by some other hand. But I believe that you will not agree quite in all this.

My dear Lyell, ever yours sincerely, C. DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO J.L.A. DE QUATREFAGES. Down, May 28 [1869 or 1870].


Dear Sir,

I have received and read your volume (Essays reprinted from the 'Revue des Deux Mondes,' under the title 'Histoire Naturelle Generale,' etc., 1869.), and am much obliged for your present. The whole strikes me as a wonderfully clear and able discussion, and I was much interested by it to the last page. It is impossible that any account of my views could be fairer, or, as far as space permitted, fuller, than that which you have given. The way in which you repeatedly mention my name is most gratifying to me. When I had finished the second part, I thought that you had stated the case so favourably that you would make more converts on my side than on your own side. On reading the subsequent parts I had to change my sanguine view. In these latter parts many of your strictures are severe enough, but all are given with perfect courtesy and fairness. I can truly say I would rather be criticised by you in this manner than praised by many others. I agree with some of your criticisms, but differ entirely from the remainder; but I will not trouble you with any remarks. I may, however, say, that you must have been deceived by the French translation, as you infer that I believe that the Parus and the Nuthatch (or Sitta) are related by direct filiation. I wished only to show by an imaginary illustration, how either instincts or structures might first change. If you had seen Canis Magellanicus alive you would have perceived how foxlike its appearance is, or if you had heard its voice, I think that you would never have hazarded the idea that it was a domestic dog run wild; but this does not much concern me. It is curious how nationality influences opinion; a week hardly passes without my hearing of some naturalist in Germany who supports my views, and often puts an exaggerated value on my works; whilst in France I have not heard of a single zoologist, except M. Gaudry (and he only partially), who supports my views. But I must have a good many readers as my books are translated, and I must hope, notwithstanding your strictures, that I may influence some embryo naturalists in France.

You frequently speak of my good faith, and no compliment can be more delightful to me, but I may return you the compliment with interest, for every word which you write bears the stamp of your cordial love for the truth. Believe me, dear Sir, with sincere respect,

Yours very faithfully, CHARLES DARWIN.


CHARLES DARWIN TO T.H. HUXLEY. Down, October 14 [1869].


My dear Huxley,

I have been delighted to see your review of Haeckel (A review of Haeckel's 'SchopfungsGeschichte.' The "Academy", 1869. Reprinted in 'Critiques and Addresses,' page 303.), and as usual you pile honours high on my head. But I write now (REQUIRING NO ANSWER) to groan a little over what you have said about rudimentary organs. (In discussing Teleology and Haeckel's "Dysteleology," Prof. Huxley says:--"Such cases as the existence of lateral rudiments of toes, in the foot of a horse, place us in a dilemma. For either these rudiments are of no use to the animals, in which case...they surely ought to have disappeared; or they are of some use to the animal, in which case they are of no use as arguments against Teleology."--('Critiques and Addresses,' page 308.) Many heretics will take advantage of what you have said. I cannot but think that the explanation given at page 541 of the last edition of the 'Origin' of the long retention of rudimentary organs and of their greater relative size during early life, is satisfactory. Their final and complete abortion seems to me a much greater difficulty. Do look in my 'Variations under Domestication,' volume ii. page 397, at what Pangenesis suggests on this head, though I did not dare to put in the 'Origin.' The passage bears also a little on the struggle between the molecules or gemmules. ("It is a probable hypothesis, that what the world is to organisms in general, each organism is to the molecules of which it is composed. Multitudes of these having diverse tendencies, are competing with one another for opportunity to exist and multiply; and the organism, as a whole, is as much the product of the molecules which are victorious as the Fauna, or Flora, of a country is the product of the victorious organic beings in it."--('Critiques and Addresses,' page 309.) There is likewise a word or two indirectly bearing on this subject at pages 394-395. It won't take you five minutes, so do look at these passages. I am very glad that you have been bold enough to give your idea about Natural Selection amongst the molecules, though I can not quite follow you.



[My father wrote in his Diary:--"The whole of this year [1870] at work on the 'Descent of

Man.'...Went to Press August 30, 1870."
The letters are again of miscellaneous interest, dealing, not only with his work, but also serving to indicate the course of his reading.]



My dear Sir,

I do not know whether you will consider me a very troublesome man, but I have just finished your book ('Comparative Longevity.'), and can not resist telling you how the whole has much interested me. No doubt, as you say, there must be much speculation on such a subject, and certain results can not be reached; but all your views are highly suggestive, and to my mind that is high praise. I have been all the more interested as I am now writing on closely allied though not quite identical points. I was pleased to see you refer to my much despised child, 'Pangenesis,' who I think will some day, under some better nurse, turn out a fine stripling. It has also pleased me to see how thoroughly you appreciate (and I do not think that this is general with the men of science) H. Spencer; I suspect that hereafter he will be looked at as by far the greatest living philosopher in England; perhaps equal to any that have lived. But I have no business to trouble you with my notions. With sincere thanks for the interest which your work has given me,

I remain, yours very faithfully, CH. DARWIN.


[The next letter refers to Mr. Wallace's 'Natural Selection' (1870), a collection of essays reprinted with certain alterations of which a list is given in the volume:]


CHARLES DARWIN TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, April 20 [1870].


My dear Wallace,

I have just received your book, and read the preface. There never has been passed on me, or indeed on any one, a higher eulogium than yours. I wish that I fully deserved it. Your modesty and candour are very far from new to me. I hope it is a satisfaction to you to reflect--and very few things in my life have been more satisfactory to me--that we have never felt any jealousy towards each other, though in one sense rivals. I believe that I can say this of myself with truth, and I am absolutely sure that it is true of you.

You have been a good Christian to give a list of your additions, for I want much to read them, and I should hardly have had time just at present to have gone through all your articles. Of course I shall immediately read those that are new or greatly altered, and I will endeavour to be as honest as can reasonably be expected. Your book looks remarkably well got up.
Believe me, my dear Wallace, to remain, Yours very cordially,

[Here follow one or two letters indicating the progress of the 'Descent of Man;' the woodcuts referred to were being prepared for that work:]

CHARLES DARWIN TO A. GUNTHER. (Dr. Gunther, Keeper of Zoology in the British Museum.)
March 23, [1870?].

Dear Gunther,

As I do not know Mr. Ford's address, will you hand him this note, which is written solely to express my unbounded admiration of the woodcuts. I fairly gloat over them. The only evil is that they will make all the other woodcuts look very poor! They are all excellent, and for the feathers I declare I think it the most wonderful woodcut I ever saw; I can not help touching it to make sure that it is smooth. How I wish to see the two other, and even more important, ones of the feathers, and the four [of] reptiles, etc. Once again accept my very sincere thanks for all your kindness. I am greatly indebted to Mr. Ford. Engravings have always hitherto been my greatest misery, and now they are a real pleasure to me.

Yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN.

P.S.--I thought I should have been in press by this time, but my subject has branched off into sub-branches, which have cost me infinite time, and heaven knows when I shall have all my MS. ready, but I am never idle.



My dear Dr. Gunther,

Sincere thanks. Your answers are wonderfully clear and complete. I have some analogous questions on reptiles, etc., which I will send in a few days, and then I think I shall cause no more trouble. I will get the books you refer me to. The case of the Solenostoma (In most of the Lophobranchii the male has a marsupial sack in which the eggs are hatched, and in these species the male is slightly brighter coloured than the female. But in Solenostoma the female is the hatcher, and is also the more brightly coloured.--'Descent of Man,' ii. 21.) is magnificent, so exactly analogous to that of those birds in which the female is the more gay, but ten times better for me, as she is the incubator. As I crawl on with the successive classes I am astonished to find how similar the rules are about the nuptial or "wedding dress" of all animals. The subject has begun to interest me in an extraordinary degree; but I must try not to fall into my common error of being too speculative. But a drunkard might as well say he would drink a little and not too much! My essay, as far as fishes, batrachians and reptiles are concerned, will be in fact yours, only written by me. With hearty thanks.

Yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN.


[The following letter is of interest, as showing the excessive care and pains which my father took in forming his opinion on a difficult point:]


CHARLES DARWIN TO A.R. WALLACE. Down, September 23 [undated].


My dear Wallace,

I am very much obliged for all your trouble in writing me your long letter, which I will keep by me and ponder over. To answer it would require at least 200 folio pages! If you could see how often I have re-written some pages you would know how anxious I am to arrive as near as I can to the truth. I lay great stress on what I know takes place under domestication; I think we start with different fundamental notions on inheritance. I find it is most difficult, but not I think impossible, to see how, for instance, a few red feathers appearing on the head of a male bird, and which ARE AT FIRST TRANSMITTED TO BOTH SEXES, could come to be transmitted to males alone. It is not enough that females should be produced from the males with red feathers, which should be destitute of red feathers; but these females must have a LATENT TENDENCY to produce such feathers, otherwise they would cause deterioration in the red head-feathers of their male offspring. Such latent tendency would be shown by their producing the red feathers when old, or diseased in their ovaria. But I have no difficulty in making the whole head red if the few red feathers in the male from the first tended to be sexually transmitted. I am quite willing to admit that the female may have been modified, either at the same time or subsequently, for protection by the accumulation of variations limited in their transmission to the female sex. I owe to your writings the consideration of this latter point. But I cannot yet persuade myself that females ALONE have often been modified for protection. Should you grudge the trouble briefly to tell me whether you believe that the plainer head and less bright colours of a female chaffinch, the less red on the head and less clean colours of the female goldfinch, the much less red on the breast of the female bull-finch, the paler crest of golden-crested wren, etc., have been acquired by them for protection. I cannot think so any more than I can that the considerable differences between female and male house sparrow, or much greater brightness of the male Parus coeruleus (both of which build under cover) than of the female Parus, are related to protection. I even mis-doubt much whether the less blackness of the female blackbird is for protection.

Again, can you give me reasons for believing that the moderate differences between the female pheasant, the female Gallus bankiva, the female black grouse, the pea-hen, the female partridge, [and their respective males,] have all special references to protection under slightly different conditions? I, of course, admit that they are all protected by dull colours, derived, as I think, from some dull-ground progenitor; and I account partly for their difference by partial transference of colour from the male and by other means too long to specify; but I earnestly wish to see reason to believe that each is specially adapted for concealment to its environment.

I grieve to differ from you, and it actually terrifies me and makes me constantly distrust myself. I fear we shall never quite understand each other. I value the cases of brightcoloured, incubating male fishes, and brilliant female butterflies, solely as showing that one sex may be made brilliant without any necessary transference of beauty to the other sex; for in these cases I cannot suppose that beauty in the other sex was checked by selection.

I fear this letter will trouble you to read it. A very short answer about your belief in regard to the female finches and gallinaceae would suffice.

Believe me, my dear Wallace, Yours very sincerely,

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, May 25 [1870].

...Last Friday we all went to the Bull Hotel at Cambridge to see the boys, and for a little rest and enjoyment. The backs of the Colleges are simply paradisaical. On Monday I saw Sedgwick, who was most cordial and kind; in the morning I thought his brain was enfeebled; in the evening he was brilliant and quite himself. His affection and kindness charmed us all. My visit to him was in one way unfortunate; for after a long sit he proposed to take me to the museum, and I could not refuse, and in consequence he utterly prostrated me; so that we left Cambridge next morning, and I have not recovered the exhaustion yet. Is it not humiliating to be thus killed by a man of eighty-six, who evidently never dreamed that he was killing me? As he said to me, "Oh, I consider you as a mere baby to me!" I saw Newton several times, and several nice friends of F.'s. But Cambridge without dear Henslow was not itself; I tried to get to the two old houses, but it was too far for me...

CHARLES DARWIN TO B.J. SULIVAN. (Admiral Sir James Sulivan was a lieutenant on board the "Beagle".)
Down, June 30 [1870].

My dear Sulivan,

It was very good of you to write to me so long a letter, telling me much about yourself and your children, which I was extremely glad to hear. Think what a benighted wretch I am, seeing no one and reading but little in the newspapers, for I did not know (until seeing the paper of your Natural History Society) that you were a K.C.B. Most heartily glad I am that the Government have at last appreciated your most just claim for this high distinction. On the other hand, I am sorry to hear so poor an account of your health; but you were surely very rash to do all that you did and then pass through so exciting a scene as a ball at the Palace. It was enough to have tired a man in robust health. Complete rest will, however, I hope, quite set you up again. As for myself, I have been rather better of late, and if nothing disturbs me I can do some hours' work every day. I shall this autumn publish another book partly on man, which I dare say many will decry as very wicked. I could have travelled to Oxford, but could no more have withstood the excitement of a commemoration (This refers to an invitation to receive the honorary degree of D.C.L. He was one of those nominated for the degree by Lord Salisbury on assuming the office of Chancellor of the University of Oxford. The fact that the honour was declined on the score of ill-health was published in the "Oxford University Gazette", June 17, 1870.) than I could a ball at Buckingham Palace. Many thanks for your kind remarks about my boys. Thank God, all give me complete satisfaction; my fourth stands second at Woolwich, and will be an Engineer Officer at Christmas. My wife desires to be very kindly remembered to Lady Sulivan, in which I very sincerely join, and in congratulation about your daughter's marriage. We are at present solitary, for all our younger children are gone a tour in Switzerland. I had never heard a word about the success of the T. del Fuego mission. It is most wonderful, and shames me, as I always prophesied utter failure. It is a grand success. I shall feel proud if your Committee think fit to elect me an honorary member of your society. With all good wishes and affectionate remembrances of ancient days,

Believe me, my dear Sulivan, Your sincere friend,

[My father's connection with the South American Mission, which is referred to in the above letter, has given rise to some public comment, and has been to some extent misunderstood. The Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking at the annual meeting of the South American Missionary Society, April 21st, 1885 (I quote a 'Leaflet,' published by the Society.), said that the Society "drew the attention of Charles Darwin, and made him, in his pursuit of the wonders of the kingdom of nature, realise that there was another kingdom just as wonderful and more lasting." Some discussion on the subject appeared in the "Daily News" of April 23rd, 24th, 29th, 1885, and finally Admiral Sir James Sulivan, on April 24th, wrote to the same journal, giving a clear account of my father's connection with the Society:--

"Your article in the "Daily News" of yesterday induces me to give you a correct statement of the connection between the South American Missionary Society and Mr. Charles Darwin, my old friend and shipmate for five years. I have been closely connected with the Society from the time of Captain Allen Gardiner's death, and Mr. Darwin has often expressed to me his conviction that it was utterly useless to send Missionaries to such a set of savages as the Fuegians, probably the very lowest of the human race. I had always replied that I did not believe any human beings existed too low to comprehend the simple message of the Gospel of Christ. After many years, I think about 1869 (It seems to have been in 1867.), but I cannot find the letter, he wrote to me that the recent accounts of the Mission proved to him that he had been wrong and I right in our estimates of the native character, and the possibility of doing them good through Missionaries; and he requested me to forward to the Society an enclosed cheque for 5 pounds, as a testimony of the interest he took in their good work. On June 6th, 1874, he wrote: 'I am very glad to hear so good an account of the Fuegians, and it is wonderful.' On June 10th, 1879: 'The progress of the Fuegians is wonderful, and had it not occurred would have been to me quite incredible.' On January 3rd, 1880: 'Your extracts' [from a journal] 'about the Fuegians are extremely curious, and have interested me much. I have often said that the progress of Japan was the greatest wonder in the world, but I declare that the progress of Fuegia is almost equally wonderful. On March 20th, 1881: 'The account of the Fuegians interested not only me, but all my family. It is truly wonderful what you have heard from Mr. Bridges about their honesty and their language. I certainly should have predicted that not all the Missionaries in the world could have done what has been done.' On December 1st, 1881, sending me his annual subscription to the Orphanage at the Mission Station, he wrote: 'Judging from the "Missionary Journal", the Mission in Tierra del Fuego seems going on quite wonderfully well.'"]



My dear Lubbock,

As I hear that the Census will be brought before the House to-morrow, I write to say how much I hope that you will express your opinion on the desirability of queries in relation to consanguineous marriages being inserted. As you are aware, I have made experiments on the subject during several years; AND IT IS MY CLEAR CONVICTION THAT THERE IS NOW AMPLE EVIDENCE OF THE EXISTENCE OF A GREAT PHYSIOLOGICAL LAW, RENDERING AN ENQUIRY WITH REFERENCE TO MANKIND OF MUCH IMPORTANCE. IN ENGLAND AND MANY PARTS OF EUROPE THE MARRIAGES OF COUSINS ARE OBJECTED TO FROM THEIR SUPPOSED INJURIOUS CONSEQUENCES; BUT THIS BELIEF RESTS ON NO DIRECT EVIDENCE. IT IS THEREFORE MANIFESTLY DESIRABLE THAT THE BELIEF SHOULD EITHER BE PROVED FALSE, OR SHOULD BE CONFIRMED, so that in this latter case the marriages of cousins might be discouraged. If the proper queries are inserted, the returns would show whether married cousins have in their households on the night of the census as many children as have parents of who are not related; and should the number prove fewer, we might safely infer either lessened fertility in the parents, or which is more probable, lessened vitality in the offspring.

It is, moreover, much to be wished that the truth of the often repeated assertion that consanguineous marriages lead to deafness, and dumbness, blindness, etc., should be ascertained; and all such assertions could be easily tested by the returns from a single census.

Believe me,
Yours very sincerely, CHARLES DARWIN. [When the Census Act was passing through the House of Commons, Sir John Lubbock and Dr. Playfair attempted to carry out this suggestion. The question came to a division, which was lost, but not by many votes.

The subject of cousin marriages was afterwards investigated by my brother. ("Marriages between First Cousins in England, and their Effects.' By George Darwin. 'Journal of the Statistical Society,' June, 1875.) The results of this laborious piece of work were negative; the author sums up in the sentence:--

"My paper is far from giving any thing like a satisfactory solution of the question as to the effects of consanguineous marriages, but it does, I think, show that the assertion that this question has already been set at rest, cannot be substantiated."]