The Life and Letters of Darwin, Volume 2 HTML version
The Spread Of Evolution
'VARIATION OF ANIMALS AND PLANTS'
[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."