The Life and Letters of Darwin, Volume 2 HTML version
Spread Of Evolution
[The beginning of the year 1861 saw my father with the third chapter of 'The Variation of
Animals and Plants' still on his hands. It had been begun in the previous August, and was
not finished until March 1861. He was, however, for part of this time (I believe during
December 1860 and January 1861) engaged in a new edition (2000 copies) of the 'Origin,'
which was largely corrected and added to, and was published in April 1861.
With regard to this, the third edition, he wrote to Mr. Murray in December 1860:--
"I shall be glad to hear when you have decided how many copies you will print off--the
more the better for me in all ways, as far as compatible with safety; for I hope never
again to make so many corrections, or rather additions, which I have made in hopes of
making my many rather stupid reviewers at least understand what is meant. I hope and
think I shall improve the book considerably."
An interesting feature in the new edition was the "Historical Sketch of the Recent
Progress of Opinion on the Origin of Species" (The Historical Sketch had already
appeared in the first German edition (1860) and the American edition. Bronn states in the
German edition (footnote, page 1) that it was his critique in the 'N. Jahrbuch fur
Mineralogie' that suggested the idea of such a sketch to my father.) which now appeared
for the first time, and was continued in the later editions of the work. It bears a strong
impress of the author's personal character in the obvious wish to do full justice to all his
predecessors,--though even in this respect it has not escaped some adverse criticism.
Towards the end of the present year (1861), the final arrangements for the first French
edition of the 'Origin' were completed, and in September a copy of the third English
edition was despatched to Mdlle. Clemence Royer, who undertook the work of
translation. The book was now spreading on the Continent, a Dutch edition had appeared,
and, as we have seen, a German translation had been published in 1860. In a letter to Mr.
Murray (September 10, 1861), he wrote, "My book seems exciting much attention in
Germany, judging from the number of discussions sent me." The silence had been
broken, and in a few years the voice of German science was to become one of the
strongest of the advocates of evolution.
During all the early part of the year (1861) he was working at the mass of details which
are marshalled in order in the early chapter of 'Animals and Plants.' Thus in his Diary
occur the laconic entries, "May 16, Finished Fowls (eight weeks); May 31, Ducks."
On July 1, he started, with his family, for Torquay, where he remained until August 27--a
holiday which he characteristically enters in his diary as "eight weeks and a day." The
house he occupied was in Hesketh Crescent, a pleasantly placed row of houses close