The Life and Letters of Darwin, Volume 2 by Sir Francis Darwin - HTML preview
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The Publication Of The 'Origin Of Species'OCTOBER 3, 1859, TO DECEMBER 31, 1859. 1859.
[Under the date of October 1st, 1859, in my father's Diary occurs the entry: "Finished proofs (thirteen months and ten days) of Abstract on 'Origin of Species'; 1250 copies printed. The first edition was published on November 24th, and all copies sold first day."
On October 2d he started for a water-cure establishment at Ilkley, near Leeds, where he remained with his family until December, and on the 9th of that month he was again at Down. The only other entry in the Diary for this year is as follows: "During end of November and beginning of December, employed in correcting for second edition of 3000 copies; multitude of letters."The first and a few of the subsequent letters refer to proof sheets, and to early copies of the 'Origin' which were sent to friends before the book was published.] C. LYELL TO CHARLES DARWIN. (Part of this letter is given in the 'Life of Sir Charles Lyell,' volume ii. page 325.) October 3d, 1859. My dear Darwin,
I have just finished your volume and right glad I am that I did my best with Hooker to persuade you to publish it without waiting for a time which probably could never have arrived, though you lived till the age of a hundred, when you had prepared all your facts on which you ground so many grand generalizations.
It is a splendid case of close reasoning, and long substantial argument throughout so many pages; the condensation immense, too great perhaps for the uninitiated, but an effective and important preliminary statement, which will admit, even before your detailed proofs appear, of some occasional useful exemplification, such as your pigeons and cirripedes, of which you make such excellent use.
I mean that, when, as I fully expect, a new edition is soon called for, you may here and there insert an actual case to relieve the vast number of abstract propositions. So far as I am concerned, I am so well prepared to take your statements of facts for granted, that I do not think the "pieces justificatives" when published will make much difference, and I have long seen most clearly that if any concession is made, all that you claim in your concluding pages will follow. It is this which has made me so long hesitate, always feeling that the case of Man and his races, and of other animals, and that of plants is one and the same, and that if a "vera causa" be admitted for one, instead of a purely unknown and imaginary one, such as the word "Creation," all the consequences must follow. I fear I have not time to-day, as I am just leaving this place, to indulge in a variety of comments, and to say how much I was delighted with Oceanic Islands--Rudimentary Organs--Embryology--the genealogical key to the Natural System, Geographical Distribution, and if I went on I should be copying the heads of all your chapters. But I will say a word of the Recapitulation, in case some slight alteration, or at least, omission of a word or two be still possible in that.
In the first place, at page 480, it cannot surely be said that the most eminent naturalists have rejected the view of the mutability of species? You do not mean to ignore G. St. Hilaire and Lamarck. As to the latter, you may say, that in regard to animals you substitute natural selection for volition to a certain considerable extent, but in his theory of the changes of plants he could not introduce volition; he may, no doubt, have laid an undue comparative stress on changes in physical conditions, and too little on those of contending organisms. He at least was for the universal mutability of species and for a genealogical link between the first and the present. The men of his school also appealed to domesticated varieties. (Do you mean LIVING naturalists?) (In the published copies of the first edition, page 480, the words are "eminent living naturalists.")
The first page of this most important summary gives the adversary an advantage, by putting forth so abruptly and crudely such a startling objection as the formation of "the eye," not by means analogous to man's reason, or rather by some power immeasurably superior to human reason, but by superinduced variation like those of which a cattlebreeder avails himself. Pages would be required thus to state an objection and remove it. It would be better, as you wish to persuade, to say nothing. Leave out several sentences, and in a future edition bring it out more fully. Between the throwing down of such a stumbling-block in the way of the reader, and the passage to the working ants, in page 460, there are pages required; and these ants are a bathos to him before he has recovered from the shock of being called upon to believe the eye to have been brought to perfection, from a state of blindness or purblindness, by such variations as we witness. I think a little omission would greatly lessen the objectionableness of these sentences if you have not time to recast and amplify.
...But these are small matters, mere spots on the sun. Your comparison of the letters retained in words, when no longer wanted for the sound, to rudimentary organs is excellent, as both are truly genealogical.
The want of peculiar birds in Madeira is a greater difficulty than seemed to me allowed for. I could cite passages where you show that variations are superinduced from the new circumstances of new colonists, which would require some Madeira birds, like those of the Galapagos, to be peculiar. There has been ample time in the case of Madeira and Porto Santo...
You enclose your sheets in old MS., so the Post Office very properly charge them as letters, 2 pence extra. I wish all their fines on MS. were worth as much. I paid 4 shillings 6 pence for such wash the other day from Paris, from a man who can prove 300 deluges in the valley of the Seine.
With my hearty congratulations to you on your grand work, believe me,
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Ilkley, Yorkshire,
October 11th .
I thank you cordially for giving me so much of your valuable time in writing me the long letter of 3d, and still longer of 4th. I wrote a line with the missing proof-sheet to Scarborough. I have adopted most thankfully all your minor corrections in the last chapter, and the greater ones as far as I could with little trouble. I damped the opening passage about the eye (in my bigger work I show the gradations in structure of the eye) by putting merely "complex organs." But you are a pretty Lord Chancellor to tell the barrister on one side how best to win the cause! The omission of "living" before eminent naturalists was a dreadful blunder.MADEIRA AND BERMUDA BIRDS NOT PECULIAR.
You are right, there is a screw out here; I thought no one would have detected it; I blundered in omitting a discussion, which I have written out in full. But once for all, let me say as an excuse, that it was most difficult to decide what to omit. Birds, which have struggled in their own homes, when settled in a body, nearly simultaneously in a new country, would not be subject to much modification, for their mutual relations would not be much disturbed. But I quite agree with you, that in time they ought to undergo some. In Bermuda and Madeira they have, as I believe, been kept constant by the frequent arrival, and the crossing with unaltered immigrants of the same species from the mainland. In Bermuda this can be proved, in Madeira highly probable, as shown me by letters from E.V. Harcourt. Moreover, there are ample grounds for believing that the crossed offspring of the new immigrants (fresh blood as breeders would say), and old colonists of the same species would be extra vigorous, and would be the most likely to survive; thus the effects of such crossing in keeping the old colonists unaltered would be much aided.ON GALAPAGOS PRODUCTIONS HAVING AMERICAN TYPE ON VIEW OF CREATION.
I cannot agree with you, that species if created to struggle with American forms, would have to be created on the American type. Facts point diametrically the other way. Look at the unbroken and untilled ground in La Plata, COVERED with European products, which have no near affinity to the indigenous products. They are not American types which conquer the aborigines. So in every island throughout the world. Alph. De Candolle's results (though he does not see its full importance), that thoroughly well naturalised [plants] are in general very different from the aborigines (belonging in large proportion of cases to non-indigenous genera) is most important always to bear in mind. Once for all, I am sure, you will understand that I thus write dogmatically for brevity sake.ON THE CONTINUED CREATION Of MONADS.
This doctrine is superfluous (and groundless) on the theory of Natural Selection, which implies no NECESSARY tendency to progression. A monad, if no deviation in its structure profitable to it under its EXCESSIVELY SIMPLE conditions of life occurred, might remain unaltered from long before the Silurian Age to the present day. I grant there will generally be a tendency to advance in complexity of organisation, though in beings fitted for very simple conditions it would be slight and slow. How could a complex organisation profit a monad? if it did not profit it there would be no advance. The Secondary Infusoria differ but little from the living. The parent monad form might perfectly well survive unaltered and fitted for its simple conditions, whilst the offspring of this very monad might become fitted for more complex conditions. The one primordial prototype of all living and extinct creatures may, it is possible, be now alive! Moreover, as you say, higher forms might be occasionally degraded, the snake Typhlops SEEMS (?!) to have the habits of earth-worms. So that fresh creatures of simple forms seem to me wholly superfluous."MUST YOU NOT ASSUME A PRIMEVAL CREATIVE POWER WHICH DOES NOT ACT WITH UNIFORMITY, OR HOW COULD MAN SUPERVENE?"
I am not sure that I understand your remarks which follow the above. We must under present knowledge assume the creation of one or of a few forms in the same manner as philosophers assume the existence of a power of attraction without any explanation. But I entirely reject, as in my judgment quite unnecessary, any subsequent addition "of new powers and attributes and forces;" or of any "principle of improvement," except in so far as every character which is naturally selected or preserved is in some way an advantage or improvement, otherwise it would not have been selected. If I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish, but I have firm faith in it, as I cannot believe, that if false, it would explain so many whole classes of facts, which, if I am in my senses, it seems to explain. As far as I understand your remarks and illustrations, you doubt the possibility of gradations of intellectual powers. Now, it seems to me, looking to existing animals alone, that we have a very fine gradation in the intellectual powers of the Vertebrata, with one rather wide gap (not half so wide as in many cases of corporeal structure), between say a Hottentot and a Ourang, even if civilised as much mentally as the dog has been from the wolf. I suppose that you do not doubt that the intellectual powers are as important for the welfare of each being as corporeal structure; if so, I can see no difficulty in the most intellectual individuals of a species being continually selected; and the intellect of the new species thus improved, aided probably by effects of inherited mental exercise. I look at this process as now going on with the races of man; the less intellectual races being exterminated. But there is not space to discuss this point. If I understand you, the turning-point in our difference must be, that you think it impossible that the intellectual powers of a species should be much improved by the continued natural selection of the most intellectual individuals. To show how minds graduate, just reflect how impossible every one has yet found it, to define the difference in mind of man and the lower animals; the latter seem to have the very same attributes in a much lower stage of perfection than the lowest savage. I would give absolutely nothing for the theory of Natural Selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent. I think Embryology, Homology, Classification, etc., etc., show us that all vertebrata have descended from one parent; how that parent appeared we know not. If you admit in ever so little a degree, the explanation which I have given of Embryology, Homology and Classification, you will find it difficult to say: thus far the explanation holds good, but no further; here we must call in "the addition of new creative forces." I think you will be driven to reject all or admit all: I fear by your letter it will be the former alternative; and in that case I shall feel sure it is my fault, and not the theory's fault, and this will certainly comfort me. With regard to the descent of the great Kingdoms (as Vertebrata, Articulata, etc.) from one parent, I have said in the conclusion, that mere analogy makes me think it probable; my arguments and facts are sound in my judgment only for each separate kingdom.THE FORMS WHICH ARE BEATEN INHERITING SOME INFERIORITY IN COMMON. I dare say I have not been guarded enough, but might not the term inferiority include less perfect adaptation to physical conditions?
My remarks apply not to single species, but to groups or genera; the species of most genera are adapted at least to rather hotter, and rather less hot, to rather damper and dryer climates; and when the several species of a group are beaten and exterminated by the several species of another group, it will not, I think, generally be from EACH new species being adapted to the climate, but from all the new species having some common advantage in obtaining sustenance, or escaping enemies. As groups are concerned, a fairer illustration than negro and white in Liberia would be the almost certain future extinction of the genus ourang by the genus man, not owing to man being better fitted for the climate, but owing to the inherited intellectual inferiority of the Ourang-genus to Man-genus, by his intellect, inventing fire-arms and cutting down forests. I believe from reasons given in my discussion, that acclimatisation is readily effected under nature. It has taken me so many years to disabuse my mind of the TOO great importance of climate--its important influence being so conspicuous, whilst that of a struggle between creature and creature is so hidden--that I am inclined to swear at the North Pole, and, as Sydney Smith said, even to speak disrespectfully of the Equator. I beg you often to reflect (I have found NOTHING so instructive) on the case of thousands of plants in the middle point of their respective ranges, and which, as we positively know, can perfectly well withstand a little more heat and cold, a little more damp and dry, but which in the metropolis of their range do not exist in vast numbers, although if many of the other inhabitants were destroyed [they] would cover the ground. We thus clearly see that their numbers are kept down, in almost every case, not by climate, but by the struggle with other organisms. All this you will perhaps think very obvious; but, until I repeated it to myself thousands of times, I took, as I believe, a wholly wrong view of the whole economy of nature...
HYBRIDISM. I am so much pleased that you approve of this chapter; you would be astonished at the labour this cost me; so often was I, on what I believe was, the wrong scent.RUDIMENTARY ORGANS.
On the theory of Natural Selection there is a wide distinction between Rudimentary Organs and what you call germs of organs, and what I call in my bigger book "nascent" organs. An organ should not be called rudimentary unless it be useless--as teeth which never cut through the gums--the papillae, representing the pistil in male flowers, wing of Apteryx, or better, the little wings under soldered elytra. These organs are now plainly useless, and a fortiori, they would be useless in a less developed state. Natural Selection acts exclusively by preserving successive slight, USEFUL modifications. Hence Natural Selection cannot possibly make a useless or rudimentary organ. Such organs are solely due to inheritance (as explained in my discussion), and plainly bespeak an ancestor having the organ in a useful condition. They may be, and often have been, worked in for other purposes, and then they are only rudimentary for the original function, which is sometimes plainly apparent. A nascent organ, though little developed, as it has to be developed must be useful in every stage of development. As we cannot prophesy, we cannot tell what organs are now nascent; and nascent organs will rarely have been handed down by certain members of a class from a remote period to the present day, for beings with any important organ but little developed, will generally have been supplanted by their descendants with the organ well developed. The mammary glands in Ornithorhynchus may, perhaps, be considered as nascent compared with the udders of a cow--Ovigerous frena, in certain cirripedes, are nascent branchiae--in [illegible] the swim bladder is almost rudimentary for this purpose, and is nascent as a lung. The small wing of penguin, used only as a fin, might be nascent as a wing; not that I think so; for the whole structure of the bird is adapted for flight, and a penguin so closely resembles other birds, that we may infer that its wings have probably been modified, and reduced by natural selection, in accordance with its sub-aquatic habits. Analogy thus often serves as a guide in distinguishing whether an organ is rudimentary or nascent. I believe the Os coccyx gives attachment to certain muscles, but I can not doubt that it is a rudimentary tail. The bastard wing of birds is a rudimentary digit; and I believe that if fossil birds are found very low down in the series, they will be seen to have a double or bifurcated wing. Here is a bold prophecy!To admit prophetic germs, is tantamount to rejecting the theory of Natural Selection.
I am very glad you think it worth while to run through my book again, as much, or more, for the subject's sake as for my own sake. But I look at your keeping the subject for some little time before your mind--raising your own difficulties and solving them--as far more important than reading my book. If you think enough, I expect you will be perverted, and if you ever are, I shall know that the theory of Natural Selection, is, in the main, safe; that it includes, as now put forth, many errors, is almost certain, though I cannot see them. Do not, of course, think of answering this; but if you have other OCCASION to write again, just say whether I have, in ever so slight a degree, shaken any of your objections. Farewell. With my cordial thanks for your long letters and valuable remarks, Believe me, yours most truly, C. DARWIN.P.S.--You often allude to Lamarck's work; I do not know what you think about it, but it appeared to me extremely poor; I got not a fact or idea from it.
CHARLES DARWIN TO L. AGASSIZ. (Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, born at Mortier, on the lake of Morat in Switzerland, on May 28, 1807. He emigrated to America in 1846, where he spent the rest of his life, and died December 14, 1873. His 'Life,' written by his widow, was published in 1885. The following extract from a letter to Agassiz (1850) is worth giving, as showing how my father regarded him, and it may be added that his cordial feelings towards the great American naturalist remained strong to the end of his life:--
"I have seldom been more deeply gratified than by receiving your most kind present of 'Lake Superior.' I had heard of it, and had much wished to read it, but I confess that it was the very great honour of having in my possession a work with your autograph as a presentation copy that has given me such lively and sincere pleasure. I cordially thank you for it. I have begun to read it with uncommon interest, which I see will increase as I go on.") Down, November 11th .My dear Sir,
I have ventured to send you a copy of my book (as yet only an abstract) on the 'Origin of Species.' As the conclusions at which I have arrived on several points differ so widely from yours, I have thought (should you at any time read my volume) that you might think that I had sent it to you out of a spirit of defiance or bravado; but I assure you that I act under a wholly different frame of mind. I hope that you will at least give me credit, however erroneous you may think my conclusions, for having earnestly endeavoured to arrive at the truth. With sincere respect, I beg leave to remain,Yours, very faithfully, CHARLES DARWIN. CHARLES DARWIN TO A. DE CANDOLLE. Down, November 11th . Dear Sir,
I have thought that you would permit me to send you (by Messrs. Williams and Norgate, booksellers) a copy of my work (as yet only an abstract) on the 'Origin of Species.' I wish to do this, as the only, though quite inadequate manner, by which I can testify to you the extreme interest which I have felt, and the great advantage which I have derived, from studying your grand and noble work on Geographical Distribution. Should you be induced to read my volume, I venture to remark that it will be intelligible only by reading the whole straight through, as it is very much condensed. It would be a high gratification to me if any portion interested you. But I am perfectly well aware that you will entirely disagree with the conclusion at which I have arrived.
You will probably have quite forgotten me; but many years ago you did me the honour of dining at my house in London to meet M. and Madame Sismondi (Jessie Allen, sister of Mrs. Josiah Wedgwood of Maer.), the uncle and aunt of my wife. With sincere respect, I beg to remain,Yours, very faithfully, CHARLES DARWIN. CHARLES DARWIN TO HUGH FALCONER. Down, November 11th . My dear Falconer, I have told Murray to send you a copy of my book on the 'Origin of Species,' which as yet is only an abstract. If you read it, you must read it straight through, otherwise from its extremely condensed state it will be unintelligible.
Lord, how savage you will be, if you read it, and how you will long to crucify me alive! I fear it will produce no other effect on you; but if it should stagger you in ever so slight a degree, in this case, I am fully convinced that you will become, year after year, less fixed in your belief in the immutability of species. With this audacious and presumptuous conviction,
I remain, my dear Falconer, Yours most truly,
I have directed a copy of my book (as yet only an abstract) on the 'Origin of Species' to be sent you. I know how you are pressed for time; but if you can read it, I shall be infinitely gratified...If ever you do read it, and can screw out time to send me (as I value your opinion so highly), however short a note, telling me what you think its weakest and best parts, I should be extremely grateful. As you are not a geologist, you will excuse my conceit in telling you that Lyell highly approves of the two Geological chapters, and thinks that on the Imperfection of the Geological Record not exaggerated. He is nearly a convert to my views...
Let me add I fully admit that there are very many difficulties not satisfactorily explained by my theory of descent with modification, but I cannot possibly believe that a false theory would explain so many classes of facts as I think it certainly does explain. On these grounds I drop my anchor, and believe that the difficulties will slowly disappear...
I have told Murray to send a copy of my book on Species to you, my dear old master in Natural History; I fear, however, that you will not approve of your pupil in this case. The book in its present state does not show the amount of labour which I have bestowed on the subject.
If you have time to read it carefully, and would take the trouble to point out what parts seem weakest to you and what best, it would be a most material aid to me in writing my bigger book, which I hope to commence in a few months. You know also how highly I value your judgment. But I am not so unreasonable as to wish or expect you to write detailed and lengthy criticisms, but merely a few general remarks, pointing out the weakest parts.
If you are IN EVEN SO SLIGHT A DEGREE staggered (which I hardly expect) on the immutability of species, then I am convinced with further reflection you will become more and more staggered, for this has been the process through which my mind has gone. My dear Henslow,Yours affectionately and gratefully, C. DARWIN. CHARLES DARWIN TO JOHN LUBBOCK. (The present Sir John Lubbock.) Ilkley, Yorkshire, Saturday [November 12th, 1859].
...Thank you much for asking me to Brighton. I hope much that you will enjoy your holiday. I have told Murray to send a copy for you to Mansion House Street, and I am surprised that you have not received it. There are so many valid and weighty arguments against my notions, that you, or any one, if you wish on the other side, will easily persuade yourself that I am wholly in error, and no doubt I am in part in error, perhaps wholly so, though I cannot see the blindness of my ways. I dare say when thunder and lightning were first proved to be due to secondary causes, some regretted to give up the idea that each flash was caused by the direct hand of God.Farewell, I am feeling very unwell to-day, so no more.
Yours very truly, C. DARWIN. CHARLES DARWIN TO JOHN LUBBOCK. Ilkley, Yorkshire,
Tuesday [November 15th, 1859].
I beg pardon for troubling you again. I do not know how I blundered in expressing myself in making you believe that we accepted your kind invitation to Brighton. I meant merely to thank you sincerely for wishing to see such a worn-out old dog as myself. I hardly know when we leave this place,--not under a fortnight, and then we shall wish to rest under our own roof-tree.I do not think I hardly ever admired a book more than Paley's 'Natural Theology.' I could almost formerly have said it by heart.
I am glad you have got my book, but I fear that you value it far too highly. I should be grateful for any criticisms. I care not for Reviews; but for the opinion of men like you and Hooker and Huxley and Lyell, etc.Farewell, with our joint thanks to Mrs. Lubbock and yourself. Adios. C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO L. JENYNS. (Now Rev. L. Blomefield.) Ilkley, Yorkshire,
November 13th, 1859.
I must thank you for your very kind note forwarded to me from Down. I have been much out of health this summer, and have been hydropathising here for the last six weeks with very little good as yet. I shall stay here for another fortnight at least. Please remember that my book is only an abstract, and very much condensed, and, to be at all intelligible, must be carefully read. I shall be very grateful for any criticisms. But I know perfectly well that you will not at all agree with the lengths which I go. It took long years to convert me. I may, of course, be egregiously wrong; but I cannot persuade myself that a theory which explains (as I think it certainly does) several large classes of facts, can be wholly wrong; notwithstanding the several difficulties which have to be surmounted somehow, and which stagger me even to this day.
I wish that my health had allowed me to publish in extenso; if ever I get strong enough I will do so, as the greater part is written out, and of which MS. the present volume is an abstract.
I fear this note will be almost illegible; but I am poorly, and can hardly sit up. Farewell; with thanks for your kind note and pleasant remembrance of good old days. Yours very sincerely, C. DARWIN.CHARLES DARWIN TO A.R. WALLACE. Ilkley, November 13th, 1859. My dear Sir,
I have told Murray to send you by post (if possible) a copy of my book, and I hope that you will receive it at nearly the same time with this note. (N.B. I have got a bad finger, which makes me write extra badly.) If you are so inclined, I should very much like to hear your general impression of the book, as you have thought so profoundly on the subject, and in so nearly the same channel with myself. I hope there will be some little new to you, but I fear not much. Remember it is only an abstract, and very much condensed. God knows what the public will think. No one has read it, except Lyell, with whom I have had much correspondence. Hooker thinks him a complete convert, but he does not seem so in his letters to me; but is evidently deeply interested in the subject. I do not think your share in the theory will be overlooked by the real judges, as Hooker, Lyell, Asa Gray, etc. I have heard from Mr. Slater that your paper on the Malay Archipelago has been read at the Linnean Society, and that he was EXTREMELY much interested by it.
I have not seen one naturalist for six or nine months, owing to the state of my health, and therefore I really have no news to tell you. I am writing this at Ilkley Wells, where I have been with my family for the last six weeks, and shall stay for some few weeks longer. As yet I have profited very little. God knows when I shall have strength for my bigger book.
I sincerely hope that you keep your health; I suppose that you will be thinking of returning (Mr. Wallace was in the Malay Archipelago.) soon with your magnificent collections, and still grander mental materials. You will be puzzled how to publish. The Royal Society fund will be worth your consideration. With every good wish, pray believe me,Yours very sincerely, CHARLES DARWIN. P.S. I think that I told you before that Hooker is a complete convert. If I can convert Huxley I shall be content.
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.D. FOX. Ilkley, Yorkshire,
Wednesday [November 16th, 1859].
...I like the place very much, and the children have enjoyed it much, and it has done my wife good. It did H. good at first, but she has gone back again. I have had a series of calamities; first a sprained ankle, and then a badly swollen whole leg and face, much rash, and a frightful succession of boils--four or five at once. I have felt quite ill, and have little faith in this "unique crisis," as the doctor calls it, doing me much good...You will probably have received, or will very soon receive, my weariful book on species, I naturally believe it mainly includes the truth, but you will not at all agree with me. Dr. Hooker, whom I consider one of the best judges in Europe, is a complete convert, and he thinks Lyell is likewise; certainly, judging from Lyell's letters to me on the subject, he is deeply staggered. Farewell. If the spirit moves you, let me have a line...
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.B. CARPENTER. Ilkley, Yorkshire,
November 18th .
I must thank you for your letter on my own account, and if I know myself, still more warmly for the subject's sake. As you seem to have understood my last chapter without reading the previous chapters, you must have maturely and most profoundly self-thought out the subject; for I have found the most extraordinary difficulty in making even able men understand at what I was driving. There will be strong opposition to my views. If I am in the main right (of course including partial errors unseen by me), the admission in my views will depend far more on men, like yourself, with well-established reputations, than on my own writings. Therefore, on the supposition that when you have read my volume you think the view in the main true, I thank and honour you for being willing to run the chance of unpopularity by advocating the view. I know not in the least whether any one will review me in any of the Reviews. I do not see how an author could enquire or interfere; but if you are willing to review me anywhere, I am sure from the admiration which I have long felt and expressed for your 'Comparative Physiology,' that your review will be excellently done, and will do good service in the cause for which I think I am not selfishly deeply interested. I am feeling very unwell to-day, and this note is badly, perhaps hardly intelligibly, expressed; but you must excuse me, for I could not let a post pass, without thanking you for your note. You will have a tough job even to shake in the slightest degree Sir H. Holland. I do not think (privately I say it) that the great man has knowledge enough to enter on the subject. Pray believe me with sincerity, Yours truly obliged,C. DARWIN. P.S.--As you are not a practical geologist, let me add that Lyell thinks the chapter on the Imperfection of the Geological Record NOT exaggerated.
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.B. CARPENTER. Ilkley, Yorkshire,
November 19th .
I beg pardon for troubling you again. If, after reading my book, you are able to come to a conclusion in any degree definite, will you think me very unreasonable in asking you to let me hear from you. I do not ask for a long discussion, but merely for a brief idea of your general impression. From your widely extended knowledge, habit of investigating the truth, and abilities, I should value your opinion in the very highest rank. Though I, of course, believe in the truth of my own doctrine, I suspect that no belief is vivid until shared by others. As yet I know only one believer, but I look at him as of the greatest authority, viz., Hooker. When I think of the many cases of men who have studied one subject for years, and have persuaded themselves of the truth of the foolishest doctrines, I feel sometimes a little frightened, whether I may not be one of these mono- maniacs.Again pray excuse this, I fear, unreasonable request. A short note would suffice, and I could bear a hostile verdict, and shall have to bear many a one. Yours very sincerely, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Ilkley, Yorkshire,
Sunday [November 1859].
I have just read a review on my book in the "Athenaeum" (November 19, 1859.), and it excites my curiosity much who is the author. If you should hear who writes in the "Athenaeum" I wish you would tell me. It seems to me well done, but the reviewer gives no new objections, and, being hostile, passes over every single argument in favour of the doctrine,...I fear from the tone of the review, that I have written in a conceited and cocksure style (The Reviewer speaks of the author's "evident self-satisfaction," and of his disposing of all difficulties "more or less confidently."), which shames me a little. There is another review of which I should like to know the author, viz., of H.C. Watson in the "Gardener's Chronicle". Some of the remarks are like yours, and he does deserve punishment; but surely the review is too severe. Don't you think so?
I hope you got the three copies for Foreign Botanists in time for your parcel, and your own copy. I have heard from Carpenter, who, I think, is likely to be a convert. Also from Quatrefages, who is inclined to go a long way with us. He says that he exhibited in his lecture a diagram closely like mine!
I shall stay here one fortnight more, and then go to Down, staying on the road at Shrewsbury a week. I have been very unfortunate: out of seven weeks I have been confined for five to the house. This has been bad for me, as I have not been able to help thinking to a foolish extent about my book. If some four or five GOOD men came round nearly to our view, I shall not fear ultimate success. I long to learn what Huxley thinks. Is your introduction (Introduction to the 'Flora of Australia.') published? I suppose that you will sell it separately. Please answer this, for I want an extra copy to send away to Wallace. I am very bothersome, farewell.
Yours affectionately, C. DARWIN.
Pray give my thanks to Mrs. Hooker for her extremely kind note, which has pleased me much. We are very sorry she cannot come here, but shall be delighted to see you and W. (our boys will be at home) here in the 2nd week of January, or any other time. I shall much enjoy discussing any points in my book with you...
I hate to hear you abuse your own work. I, on the contrary, so sincerely value all that you have written. It is an old and firm conviction of mine, that the Naturalists who accumulate facts and make many partial generalisations are the REAL benefactors of science. Those who merely accumulate facts I cannot very much respect.
I had hoped to have come up for the Club to-morrow, but very much doubt whether I shall be able. Ilkley seems to have done me no essential good. I attended the Bench on Monday, and was detained in adjudicating some troublesome cases 1 1/2 hours longer than usual, and came home utterly knocked up, and cannot rally. I am not worth an old button...Many thanks for your pleasant note.Ever yours, C. DARWIN.
P.S.--I feel confident that for the future progress of the subject of the origin and manner of formation of species, the assent and arguments and facts of working naturalists, like yourself, are far more important than my own book; so for God's sake do not abuse your Introduction.H.C. WATSON TO CHARLES DARWIN. Thames Ditton, November 21st . My dear Sir,
Once commenced to read the 'Origin,' I could not rest till I had galloped through the whole. I shall now begin to re-read it more deliberately. Meantime I am tempted to write you the first impressions, not doubting that they will, in the main, be the permanent impressions:--
1st. Your leading idea will assuredly become recognised as an established truth in science, i.e. "Natural Selection." It has the characteristics of all great natural truths, clarifying what was obscure, simplifying what was intricate, adding greatly to previous knowledge. You are the greatest revolutionist in natural history of this century, if not of all centuries.
2nd. You will perhaps need, in some degree, to limit or modify, possibly in some degree also to extend, your present applications of the principle of natural selection. Without going to matters of more detail, it strikes me that there is one considerable primary inconsistency, by one failure in the analogy between varieties and species; another by a sort of barrier assumed for nature on insufficient grounds and arising from "divergence." These may, however, be faults in my own mind, attributable to yet incomplete perception of your views. And I had better not trouble you about them before again reading the volume.
3rd. Now these novel views are brought fairly before the scientific public, it seems truly remarkable how so many of them could have failed to see their right road sooner. How could Sir C. Lyell, for instance, for thirty years read, write, and think, on the subject of species AND THEIR SUCCESSION, and yet constantly look down the wrong road!
A quarter of a century ago, you and I must have been in something like the same state of mind on the main question, but you were able to see and work out the quo modo of the succession, the all-important thing, while I failed to grasp it. I send by this post a little controversial pamphlet of old date--Combe and Scott. If you will take the trouble to glance at the passages scored on the margin, you will see that, a quarter of a century ago, I was also one of the few who then doubted the absolute distinctness of species, and special creations of them. Yet I, like the rest, failed to detect the quo modo which was reserved for your penetration to DISCOVER, and your discernment to APPLY.
You answered my query about the hiatus between Satyrus and Homo as was expected. The obvious explanation really never occurred to me till some months after I had read the papers in the 'Linnean Proceedings.' The first species of Fere-homo ("Almost-man.") would soon make direct and exterminating war upon his Infra-homo cousins. The gap would thus be made, and then go on increasing, into the present enormous and still widening hiatus. But how greatly this, with your chronology of animal life, will shock the ideas of many men!Very sincerely, HEWETT C. WATSON. J.D. HOOKER TO CHARLES DARWIN. Athenaeum, Monday [November 21st, 1859]. My dear Darwin,
I am a sinner not to have written you ere this, if only to thank you for your glorious book
-what a mass of close reasoning on curious facts and fresh phenomena--it is capitally written, and will be very successful. I say this on the strength of two or three plunges into as many chapters, for I have not yet attempted to read it. Lyell, with whom we are staying, is perfectly enchanted, and is absolutely gloating over it. I must accept your compliment to me, and acknowledgment of supposed assistance from me, as the warm tribute of affection from an honest (though deluded) man, and furthermore accept it as very pleasing to my vanity; but, my dear fellow, neither my name nor my judgment nor my assistance deserved any such compliments, and if I am dishonest enough to be pleased with what I don't deserve, it must just pass. How different the BOOK reads from the MS. I see I shall have much to talk over with you. Those lazy printers have not finished my luckless Essay; which, beside your book, will look like a ragged handkerchief beside a Royal Standard...
I cannot help it, I must thank you for your affectionate and most kind note. My head will be turned. By Jove, I must try and get a bit modest. I was a little chagrined by the review. (This refers to the review in the "Athenaeum", November 19, 1859, where the reviewer, after touching on the theological aspects of the book, leaves the author to "the mercies of the Divinity Hall, the College, the Lecture Room, and the Museum.") I hope it was NOT
--. As advocate, he might think himself justified in giving the argument only on one side. But the manner in which he drags in immortality, and sets the priests at me, and leaves me to their mercies, is base. He would, on no account, burn me, but he will get the wood ready, and tell the black beasts how to catch me...It would be unspeakably grand if Huxley were to lecture on the subject, but I can see this is a mere chance; Faraday might think it too unorthodox.
...I had a letter from [Huxley] with such tremendous praise of my book, that modesty (as I am trying to cultivate that difficult herb) prevents me sending it to you, which I should have liked to have done, as he is very modest about himself.
You have cockered me up to that extent, that I now feel I can face a score of savage reviewers. I suppose you are still with the Lyells. Give my kindest remembrance to them. I triumph to hear that he continues to approve.Believe me, your would-be modest friend, C.D.
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Ilkley Wells, Yorkshire,
November 23 .
My dear Lyell, You seemed to have worked admirably on the species question; there could not have been a better plan than reading up on the opposite side. I rejoice profoundly that you intend admitting the doctrine of modification in your new edition (It appears from Sir Charles Lyell's published letters that he intended to admit the doctrine of evolution in a new edition of the 'Manual,' but this was not published till 1865. He was, however, at work on the 'Antiquity of Man' in 1860, and had already determined to discuss the 'Origin' at the end of the book.); nothing, I am convinced, could be more important for its success. I honour you most sincerely. To have maintained in the position of a master, one side of a question for thirty years, and then deliberately give it up, is a fact to which I much doubt whether the records of science offer a parallel. For myself, also, I rejoice profoundly; for, thinking of so many cases of men pursuing an illusion for years, often and often a cold shudder has run through me, and I have asked myself whether I may not have devoted my life to a phantasy. Now I look at it as morally impossible that investigators of truth, like you and Hooker, can be wholly wrong, and therefore I rest in peace. Thank you for criticisms, which, if there be a second edition, I will attend to. I have been thinking that if I am much execrated as an atheist, etc., whether the admission of the doctrine of natural selection could injure your works; but I hope and think not, for as far as I can remember, the virulence of bigotry is expended on the first offender, and those who adopt his views are only pitied as deluded, by the wise and cheerful bigots.
I cannot help thinking that you overrate the importance of the multiple origin of dogs. The only difference is, that in the case of single origins, all difference of the races has originated since man domesticated the species. In the case of multiple origins part of the difference was produced under natural conditions. I should INFINITELY prefer the theory of single origin in all cases, if facts would permit its reception. But there seems to me some a priori improbability (seeing how fond savages are of taming animals), that throughout all times, and throughout all the world, that man should have domesticated one single species alone, of the widely distributed genus Canis. Besides this, the close resemblance of at least three kinds of American domestic dogs to wild species still inhabiting the countries where they are now domesticated, seem to almost compel admission that more than one wild Canis has been domesticated by man.I thank you cordially for all the generous zeal and interest you have shown about my book, and I remain, my dear Lyell, Your affectionate friend and disciple, CHARLES DARWIN.
Sir J. Herschel, to whom I sent a copy, is going to read my book. He says he leans to the side opposed to me. If you should meet him after he has read me, pray find out what he thinks, for, of course, he will not write; and I should excessively like to hear whether I produce any effect on such a mind.
T.H. HUXLEY TO CHARLES DARWIN. Jermyn Street W.,
November 23rd, 1859.
My dear Darwin,
Since I read Von Baer's (Karl Ernst von Baer, born 1792, died at Dorpat 1876--one of the most distinguished biologists of the century. He practically founded the modern science of embryology.) essays, nine years ago, no work on Natural History Science I have met with has made so great an impression upon me, and I do most heartily thank you for the great store of new views you have given me. Nothing, I think, can be better than the tone of the book, it impresses those who know nothing about the subject. As for your doctrine, I am prepared to go to the stake, if requisite, in support of Chapter IX., and most parts of Chapters X., XI., XII., and Chapter XIII. contains much that is most admirable, but on one or two points I enter a caveat until I can see further into all sides of the question.
As to the first four chapters, I agree thoroughly and fully with all the principles laid down in them. I think you have demonstrated a true cause for the production of species, and have thrown the onus probandi that species did not arise in the way you suppose, on your adversaries.
But I feel that I have not yet by any means fully realized the bearings of those most remarkable and original Chapters III., IV. and V., and I will write no more about them just now.
The only objections that have occurred to me are, 1st that you have loaded yourself with an unnecessary difficulty in adopting Natura non facit saltum so unreservedly...And 2nd, it is not clear to me why, if continual physical conditions are of so little moment as you suppose, variation should occur at all.However, I must read the book two or three times more before I presume to begin picking holes.
I trust you will not allow yourself to be in any way disgusted or annoyed by the considerable abuse and misrepresentation which, unless I greatly mistake, is in store for you. Depend upon it you have earned the lasting gratitude of all thoughtful men. And as to the curs which will bark and yelp, you must recollect that some of your friends, at any rate, are endowed with an amount of combativeness which (though you have often and justly rebuked it) may stand you in good stead.I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness.
Looking back over my letter, it really expresses so feebly all I think about you and your noble book that I am half ashamed of it; but you will understand that, like the parrot in the story, "I think the more."
Ever yours faithfully, T.H. HUXLEY.
CHARLES DARWIN TO T.H. HUXLEY. Ilkley, November 25th .
Your letter has been forwarded to me from Down. Like a good Catholic who has received extreme unction, I can now sing "nunc dimittis." I should have been more than contented with one quarter of what you have said. Exactly fifteen months ago, when I put pen to paper for this volume, I had awful misgivings; and thought perhaps I had deluded myself, like so many have done, and I then fixed in my mind three judges, on whose decision I determined mentally to abide. The judges were Lyell, Hooker, and yourself. It was this which made me so excessively anxious for your verdict. I am now contented, and can sing my nunc dimittis. What a joke it would be if I pat you on the back when you attack some immovable creationist! You have most cleverly hit on one point, which has greatly troubled me; if, as I must think, external conditions produce little DIRECT effect, what the devil determines each particular variation? What makes a tuft of feathers come on a cock's head, or moss on a moss-rose? I shall much like to talk over this with you...My dear Huxley, I thank you cordially for your letter. Yours very sincerely, C. DARWIN.
P.S.--Hereafter I shall be particularly curious to hear what you think of my explanation of Embryological similarity. On classification I fear we shall split. Did you perceive the argumentum ad hominem Huxley about kangaroo and bear?ERASMUS DARWIN (His brother.) TO CHARLES DARWIN. November 23rd . Dear Charles,
I am so much weaker in the head, that I hardly know if I can write, but at all events I will jot down a few things that the Dr. (Dr., afterwards Sir Henry Holland.) has said. He has not read much above half, so as he says he can give no definite conclusion, and it is my private belief he wishes to remain in that state...He is evidently in a dreadful state of indecision, and keeps stating that he is not tied down to either view, and that he has always left an escape by the way he has spoken of varieties. I happened to speak of the eye before he had read that part, and it took away his breath--utterly impossible-structure, function, etc., etc., etc., but when he had read it he hummed and hawed, and perhaps it was partly conceivable, and then he fell back on the bones of the ear, which were beyond all probability or conceivability. He mentioned a slight blot, which I also observed, that in speaking of the slave-ants carrying one another, you change the species without giving notice first, and it makes one turn back...
...For myself I really think it is the most interesting book I ever read, and can only compare it to the first knowledge of chemistry, getting into a new world or rather behind the scenes. To me the geographical distribution, I mean the relation of islands to continents, is the most convincing of the proofs, and the relation of the oldest forms to the existing species. I dare say I don't feel enough the absence of varieties, but then I don't in the least know if everything now living were fossilized whether the paleontologists could distinguish them. In fact the a priori reasoning is so entirely satisfactory to me that if the facts won't fit in, why so much the worse for the facts is my feeling. My ague has left me in such a state of torpidity that I wish I had gone through the process of natural selection.Yours affectionately, E.A.D. CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Ilkley, November [24th, 1859]. My dear Lyell, Again I have to thank you for a most valuable lot of criticisms in a letter dated 22nd.
This morning I heard also from Murray that he sold the whole edition (First edition, 1250 copies.) the first day to the trade. He wants a new edition instantly, and this utterly confounds me. Now, under water-cure, with all nervous power directed to the skin, I cannot possibly do head-work, and I must make only actually necessary corrections. But I will, as far as I can without my manuscript, take advantage of your suggestions: I must not attempt much. Will you send me one line to say whether I must strike out about the secondary whale (The passage was omitted in the second edition.), it goes to my heart. About the rattle-snake, look to my Journal, under Trigonocephalus, and you will see the probable origin of the rattle, and generally in transitions it is the premier pas qui coute.
Madame Belloc wants to translate my book into French; I have offered to look over proofs for SCIENTIFIC errors. Did you ever hear of her? I believe Murray has agreed at my urgent advice, but I fear I have been rash and premature. Quatrefages has written to me, saying he agrees largely with my views. He is an excellent naturalist. I am pressed for time. Will you give us one line about the whales? Again I thank you for never- tiring advice and assistance; I do in truth reverence your unselfish and pure love of truth.My dear Lyell, ever yours, C. DARWIN.
[With regard to a French translation, he wrote to Mr. Murray in November 1859: "I am EXTREMELY anxious, for the subject's sake (and God knows not for mere fame), to have my book translated; and indirectly its being known abroad will do good to the English sale. If it depended on me, I should agree without payment, and instantly send a copy, and only beg that she [Mme. Belloc] would get some scientific man to look over the translation...You might say that, though I am a very poor French scholar, I could detect any scientific mistake, and would read over the French proofs."
The proposed translation was not made, and a second plan fell through in the following year. He wrote to M. de Quatrefages: "The gentleman who wished to translate my 'Origin of Species' has failed in getting a publisher. Balliere, Masson, and Hachette all rejected it with contempt. It was foolish and presumptuous in me, hoping to appear in a French dress; but the idea would not have entered my head had it not been suggested to me. It is a great loss. I must console myself with the German edition which Prof. Bronn is bringing out." (See letters to Bronn, page 70.)
A sentence in another letter to M. de Quatrefages shows how anxious he was to convert one of the greatest of contemporary Zoologists: "How I should like to know whether Milne Edwards had read the copy which I sent him, and whether he thinks I have made a pretty good case on our side of the question. There is no naturalist in the world for whose opinion I have so profound a respect. Of course I am not so silly as to expect to change his opinion."]CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Ilkley, [November 26th, 1859]. My dear Lyell, I have received your letter of the 24th. It is no use trying to thank you; your kindness is beyond thanks. I will certainly leave out the whale and bear...
The edition was 1250 copies. When I was in spirits, I sometimes fancied that my book would be successful, but I never even built a castle in the air of such success as it has met with; I do not mean the sale, but the impression it has made on you (whom I have always looked at as chief judge) and Hooker and Huxley. The whole has infinitely exceeded my wildest hopes.Farewell, I am tired, for I have been going over the sheets. My kind friend, farewell, yours, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Ilkley, Yorkshire,
December 2nd .
Every note which you have sent me has interested me much. Pray thank Lady Lyell for her remark. In the chapters she refers to, I was unable to modify the passage in accordance with your suggestion; but in the final chapter I have modified three or four. Kingsley, in a note (The letter is given below) to me, had a capital paragraph on such notions as mine being NOT opposed to a high conception of the Deity. I have inserted it as an extract from a letter to me from a celebrated author and divine. I have put in about nascent organs. I had the greatest difficulty in partially making out Sedgwick's letter, and I dare say I did greatly underrate its clearness. Do what I could, I fear I shall be greatly abused. In answer to Sedgwick's remark that my book would be "mischievous," I asked him whether truth can be known except by being victorious over all attacks. But it is no use. H.C. Watson tells me that one zoologist says he will read my book, "but I will never believe it." What a spirit to read any book in! Crawford writes to me that his notice (John Crawford, orientalist, ethnologist, etc., 1783-1868. The review appeared in the "Examiner", and, though hostile, is free from bigotry, as the following citation will show: "We cannot help saying that piety must be fastidious indeed that objects to a theory the tendency of which is to show that all organic beings, man included, are in a perpetual progress of amelioration, and that is expounded in the reverential language which we have quoted.") will be hostile, but that "he will not calumniate the author." He says he has read my book, "at least such parts as he could understand." He sent me some notes and suggestions (quite unimportant), and they show me that I have unavoidably done harm to the subject, by publishing an abstract. He is a real Pallasian; nearly all our domestic races descended from a multitude of wild species now commingled. I expected Murchison to be outrageous. How little he could ever have grappled with the subject of denudation! How singular so great a geologist should have so unphilosophical a mind! I have had several notes from --, very civil and less decided. Says he shall not pronounce against me without much reflection, PERHAPS WILL SAY NOTHING on the subject. X. says -- will go to that part of hell, which Dante tells us is appointed for those who are neither on God's side nor on that of the devil.
I fully believe that I owe the comfort of the next few years of my life to your generous support, and that of a very few others. I do not think I am brave enough to have stood being odious without support; now I feel as bold as a lion. But there is one thing I can see I must learn, viz., to think less of myself and my book. Farewell, with cordial thanks.Yours most truly, C. DARWIN. I return home on the 7th, and shall sleep at Erasmus's. I will call on you about ten o'clock, on Thursday, the 8th, and sit with you, as I have so often sat, during your breakfast. I wish there was any chance of Prestwich being shaken; but I fear he is too much of a catastrophist.
[In December there appeared in 'Macmillan's Magazine' an article, "Time and Life," by Professor Huxley. It is mainly occupied by an analysis of the argument of the 'Origin,' but it also gives the substance of a lecture delivered at the Royal Institution before that book was published. Professor Huxley spoke strongly in favour of evolution in his Lecture, and explains that in so doing he was to a great extent resting on a knowledge of "the general tenor of the researches in which Mr. Darwin had been so long engaged," and was supported in so doing by his perfect confidence in his knowledge, perseverance, and "high-minded love of truth." My father was evidently deeply pleased by Mr. Huxley's words, and wrote:
"I must thank you for your extremely kind notice of my book in 'Macmillan.' No one could receive a more delightful and honourable compliment. I had not heard of your Lecture, owing to my retired life. You attribute much too much to me from our mutual friendship. You have explained my leading idea with admirable clearness. What a gift you have of writing (or more properly) thinking clearly."]
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.B. CARPENTER. Ilkley, Yorkshire,
December 3rd .
I am perfectly delighted at your letter. It is a great thing to have got a great physiologist on our side. I say "our" for we are now a good and compact body of really good men, and mostly not old men. In the long run we shall conquer. I do not like being abused, but I feel that I can now bear it; and, as I told Lyell, I am well convinced that it is the first offender who reaps the rich harvest of abuse. You have done an essential kindness in checking the odium theologicum in the E.R. (This must refer to Carpenter's critique which would now have been ready to appear in the January number of the "Edinburgh Review", 1860, and in which the odium theologicum is referred to.) It much pains all one's female relations and injures the cause.
I look at it as immaterial whether we go quite the same lengths; and I suspect, judging from myself, that you will go further, by thinking of a population of forms like Ornithorhyncus, and by thinking of the common homological and embryological structure of the several vertebrate orders. But this is immaterial. I quite agree that the principle is everything. In my fuller MS. I have discussed a good many instincts; but there will surely be more unfilled gaps here than with corporeal structure, for we have no fossil instincts, and know scarcely any except of European animals. When I reflect how very slowly I came round myself, I am in truth astonished at the candour shown by Lyell, Hooker, Huxley, and yourself. In my opinion it is grand. I thank you cordially for taking the trouble of writing a review for the 'National.' God knows I shall have few enough in any degree favourable. (See a letter to Dr. Carpenter below.)CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Saturday [December 5th, 1859].
...I have had a letter from Carpenter this morning. He reviews me in the 'National.' He is a convert, but does not go quite so far as I, but quite far enough, for he admits that all birds are from one progenitor, and probably all fishes and reptiles from another parent. But the last mouthful chokes him. He can hardly admit all vertebrates from one parent. He will surely come to this from Homology and Embryology. I look at it as grand having brought round a great physiologist, for great I think he certainly is in that line. How curious I shall be to know what line Owen will take; dead against us, I fear; but he wrote me a most liberal note on the reception of my book, and said he was quite prepared to consider fairly and without prejudice my line of argument.
J.D. HOOKER TO CHARLES DARWIN. Kew, Monday.
You have, I know, been drenched with letters since the publication of your book, and I have hence forborne to add my mite. I hope now that you are well through Edition II., and I have heard that you were flourishing in London. I have not yet got half-through the book, not from want of will, but of time--for it is the very hardest book to read, to full profits, that I ever tried--it is so cram-full of matter and reasoning. I am all the more glad that you have published in this form, for the three volumes, unprefaced by this, would have choked any Naturalist of the nineteenth century, and certainly have softened my brain in the operation of assimilating their contents. I am perfectly tired of marvelling at the wonderful amount of facts you have brought to bear, and your skill in marshalling them and throwing them on the enemy; it is also extremely clear as far as I have gone, but very hard to fully appreciate. Somehow it reads very different from the MS., and I often fancy I must have been very stupid not to have more fully followed it in MS. Lyell told me of his criticisms. I did not appreciate them all, and there are many little matters I hope one day to talk over with you. I saw a highly flattering notice in the 'English Churchman,' short and not at all entering into discussion, but praising you and your book, and talking patronizingly of the doctrine!...Bentham and Henslow will still shake their heads I fancy...Ever yours affectionately, JOS. D. HOOKER. CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, Saturday [December 12th, 1859]. ...I had very long interviews with --, which perhaps you would like to hear about...I infer from several expressions that, at bottom, he goes an immense way with us...
He said to the effect that my explanation was the best ever published of the manner of formation of species. I said I was very glad to hear it. He took me up short: "You must not at all suppose that I agree with you in all respects." I said I thought it no more likely that I should be right in nearly all points, than that I should toss up a penny and get heads twenty times running. I asked him what he thought the weakest part. He said he had no particular objection to any part. He added:--
"If I must criticise, I should say, 'we do not want to know what Darwin believes and is convinced of, but what he can prove.'" I agreed most fully and truly that I have probably greatly sinned in this line, and defended my general line of argument of inventing a theory and seeing how many classes of facts the theory would explain. I added that I would endeavour to modify the "believes" and "convinceds." He took me up short: "You will then spoil your book, the charm of (!) it is that it is Darwin himself." He added another objection, that the book was too teres atque rotundus--- that it explained everything, and that it was improbable in the highest degree that I should succeed in this. I quite agree with this rather queer objection, and it comes to this that my book must be very bad or very good...
I have heard, by roundabout channel, that Herschel says my book "is the law of higgledypiggledy." What this exactly means I do not know, but it is evidently very contemptuous. If true this is a great blow and discouragement.CHARLES DARWIN TO JOHN LUBBOCK. December 14th .
...The latter part of my stay at Ilkley did me much good, but I suppose I never shall be strong, for the work I have had since I came back has knocked me up a little more than once. I have been busy in getting a reprint (with a very few corrections) through the press.
My book has been as yet VERY MUCH more successful than I ever dreamed of: Murray is now printing 3000 copies. Have you finished it? If so, pray tell me whether you are with me on the GENERAL issue, or against me. If you are against me, I know well how honourable, fair, and candid an opponent I shall have, and which is a good deal more than I can say of all my opponents...Pray tell me what you have been doing. Have you had time for any Natural History?... P.S.--I have got--I wish and hope I might say that WE have got--a fair number of excellent men on our side of the question on the mutability of species. CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, December 14th . My dear Hooker,
Your approval of my book, for many reasons, gives me intense satisfaction; but I must make some allowance for your kindness and sympathy. Any one with ordinary faculties, if he had PATIENCE enough and plenty of time, could have written my book. You do not know how I admire your and Lyell's generous and unselfish sympathy, I do not believe either of you would have cared so much about your own work. My book, as yet, has been far more successful than I ever even formerly ventured in the wildest daydreams to anticipate. We shall soon be a good body of working men, and shall have, I am convinced, all young and rising naturalists on our side. I shall be intensely interested to hear whether my book produces any effect on A. Gray; from what I heard at Lyell's, I fancy your correspondence has brought him some way already. I fear that there is no chance of Bentham being staggered. Will he read my book? Has he a copy? I would send him one of the reprints if he has not. Old J.E. Gray (John Edward Gray (1800-1875), was the son of S.F. Gray, author of the 'Supplement to the Pharmacopoeia.' In 1821 he published in his father's name 'The Natural Arrangement of British Plants,' one of the earliest works in English on the natural method. In 1824 he became connected with the Natural History Department of the British Museum, and was appointed Keeper of the Zoological collections in 1840. He was the author of 'Illustrations of Indian Zoology,' 'The Knowsley Menagerie,' etc., and of innumerable descriptive Zoological papers.), at the British Museum, attacked me in fine style: "You have just reproduced Lamarck's doctrine and nothing else, and here Lyell and others have been attacking him for twenty years, and because YOU (with a sneer and laugh) say the very same thing, they are all coming round; it is the most ridiculous inconsistency, etc., etc."
You must be very glad to be settled in your house, and I hope all the improvements satisfy you. As far as my experience goes, improvements are never perfection. I am very sorry to hear that you are still so very busy, and have so much work. And now for the main purport of my note, which is to ask and beg you and Mrs. Hooker (whom it is really an age since I have seen), and all your children, if you like, to come and spend a week here. It would be a great pleasure to me and to my wife...As far as we can see, we shall be at home all the winter; and all times probably would be equally convenient; but if you can, do not put it off very late, as it may slip through. Think of this and persuade Mrs. Hooker, and be a good man and come.
Farewell, my kind and dear friend, Yours affectionately,
P.S.--I shall be very curious to hear what you think of my discussion on Classification in Chapter XIII.; I believe Huxley demurs to the whole, and says he has nailed his colours to the mast, and I would sooner die than give up; so that we are in as fine a frame of mind to discuss the point as any two religionists.Embryology is my pet bit in my book, and, confound my friends, not one has noticed this to me. CHARLES DARWIN TO ASA GRAY. Down, December 21st . My dear Gray,
I have just received your most kind, long, and valuable letter. I will write again in a few days, for I am at present unwell and much pressed with business: to-day's note is merely personal. I should, for several reasons, be very glad of an American Edition. I have made up my mind to be well abused; but I think it of importance that my notions should be read by intelligent men, accustomed to scientific argument, though NOT naturalists. It may seem absurd, but I think such men will drag after them those naturalists who have too firmly fixed in their heads that a species is an entity. The first edition of 1250 copies was sold on the first day, and now my publisher is printing off, as RAPIDLY AS POSSIBLE, 3000 more copies. I mention this solely because it renders probable a remunerative sale in America. I should be infinitely obliged if you could aid an American reprint; and could make, for my sake and the publisher's, any arrangement for any profit. The new edition is only a reprint, yet I have made a FEW important corrections. I will have the clean sheets sent over in a few days of as many sheets as are printed off, and the remainder afterwards, and you can do anything you like,--if nothing, there is no harm done. I should be glad for the new edition to be reprinted and not the old.--In great haste, and with hearty thanks,Yours very sincerely, C. DARWIN. I will write soon again. CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, 22nd [December, 1859]. My dear Lyell, Thanks about "Bears" (See 'Origin,' edition i., page 184.), a word of ill- omen to me. I am too unwell to leave home, so shall not see you.
I am very glad of your remarks on Hooker. (Sir C. Lyell wrote to Sir J.D. Hooker, December 19, 1859 ('Life,' ii. page 327): "I have just finished the reading of your splendid Essay [the 'Flora of Australia'] on the origin of species, as illustrated by your wide botanical experience, and think it goes very far to raise the variety-making hypothesis to the rank of a theory, as accounting for the manner in which new species enter the world.") I have not yet got the essay. The parts which I read in sheets seemed to me grand, especially the generalization about the Australian flora itself. How superior to Robert Brown's celebrated essay! I have not seen Naudin's paper ('Revue Horticole,' 1852. See historical Sketch in the later editions of the 'Origin of Species.'), and shall not be able till I hunt the libraries. I am very anxious to see it. Decaisne seems to think he gives my whole theory. I do not know when I shall have time and strength to grapple with Hooker...
P.S.--I have heard from Sir W. Jardine (Jardine, Sir William, Bart., 1800- 1874, was the son of Sir A. Jardine of Applegarth, Dumfriesshire. He was educated at Edinburgh, and succeeded to the title on his father's decease in 1821. He published, jointly with Mr. Prideaux, J. Selby, Sir Stamford Raffles, Dr. Horsfield, and other ornithologists, 'Illustrations of Ornithology,' and edited the 'Naturalist's Library,' in 40 volumes, which included the four branches: Mammalia, Ornithology, Ichnology, and Entomology. Of these 40 volumes 14 were written by himself. In 1836 he became editor of the 'Magazine of Zoology and Botany,' which, two years later, was transformed into 'Annals of Natural History,' but remained under his direction. For Bohn's Standard Library he edited White's 'Natural History of Selborne.' Sir W. Jardine was also joint editor of the 'Edinburgh Philosophical Journal,' and was author of 'British Salmonidae,' 'Ichthyology of Annandale,' 'Memoirs of the late Hugh Strickland,' 'Contributions to Ornithology,' 'Ornithological Synonyms,' etc.--(Taken from Ward, 'Men of the Reign,' and Cates, 'Dictionary of General Biography.'): his criticisms are quite unimportant; some of the Galapagos so-called species ought to be called varieties, which I fully expected; some of the sub-genera, thought to be wholly endemic, have been found on the Continent (not that he gives his authority), but I do not make out that the species are the same. His letter is brief and vague, but he says he will write again.CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down [23rd December, 1859]. My dear Hooker,
I received last night your 'Introduction,' for which very many thanks; I am surprised to see how big it is: I shall not be able to read it very soon. It was very good of you to send Naudin, for I was very curious to see it. I am surprised that Decaisne should say it was the same as mine. Naudin gives artificial selection, as well as a score of English writers, and when he says species were formed in the same manner, I thought the paper would certainly prove exactly the same as mine. But I cannot find one word like the struggle for existence and natural selection. On the contrary, he brings in his principle (page 103) of finality (which I do not understand), which, he says, with some authors is fatality, with others providence, and which adapts the forms of every being, and harmonises them all throughout nature.
He assumes like old geologists (who assumed that the forces of nature were formerly greater), that species were at first more plastic. His simile of tree and classification is like mine (and others), but he cannot, I think, have reflected much on the subject, otherwise he would see that genealogy by itself does not give classification; I declare I cannot see a MUCH closer approach to Wallace and me in Naudin than in Lamarck--we all agree in modification and descent. If I do not hear from you I will return the 'Revue' in a few days (with the cover). I dare say Lyell would be glad to see it. By the way, I will retain the volume till I hear whether I shall or not send it to Lyell. I should rather like Lyell to see this note, though it is foolish work sticking up for independence or priority.Ever yours, C. DARWIN.
A. SEDGWICK (Rev. Adam Sedgwick, 1785-1873, Woodwardian Professor of Geology in the University of Cambridge.) TO CHARLES DARWIN. Cambridge, December 24th, .My dear Darwin,
I write to thank you for your work on the 'Origin of Species.' It came, I think, in the latter part of last week; but it MAY have come a few days sooner, and been overlooked among my book-parcels, which often remain unopened when I am lazy or busy with any work before me. So soon as I opened it I began to read it, and I finished it, after many interruptions, on Tuesday. Yesterday I was employed--1st, in preparing for my lecture; 2ndly, in attending a meeting of my brother Fellows to discuss the final propositions of the Parliamentary Commissioners; 3rdly, in lecturing; 4thly, in hearing the conclusion of the discussion and the College reply, whereby, in conformity with my own wishes, we accepted the scheme of the Commissioners; 5thly, in dining with an old friend at Clare College; 6thly, in adjourning to the weekly meeting of the Ray Club, from which I returned at 10 P.M., dog-tired, and hardly able to climb my staircase. Lastly, in looking through the "Times" to see what was going on in the busy world.
I do not state this to fill space (though I believe that Nature does abhor a vacuum), but to prove that my reply and my thanks are sent to you by the earliest leisure I have, though that is but a very contracted opportunity. If I did not think you a good-tempered and truth-loving man, I should not tell you that (spite of the great knowledge, store of facts, capital views of the correlation of the various parts of organic nature, admirable hints about the diffusion, through wide regions of many related organic beings, etc., etc.) I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly, parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow, because I think them utterly false and grievously mischievous. You have DESERTED--after a start in that tram- road of all solid physical truth--the true method of induction, and started us in machinery as wild, I think, as Bishop Wilkins's locomotive that was to sail with us to the moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved, why then express them in the language and arrangement of philosophical induction? As to your grand principle--NATURAL SELECTION--what is it but a secondary consequence of supposed, or known, primary facts! Development is a better word, because more close to the cause of the fact? For you do not deny causation. I call (in the abstract) causation the will of God; and I can prove that He acts for the good of His creatures. He also acts by laws which we can study and comprehend. Acting by law, and under what is called final causes, comprehends, I think, your whole principle. You write of "natural selection" as if it were done curiously by the selecting agent. 'Tis but a consequence of the presupposed development, and the subsequent battle for life. This view of nature you have stated admirably, though admitted by all naturalists and denied by no one of common sense. We all admit development as a fact of history: but how came it about? Here, in language, and still more in logic, we are point-blank at issue. There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly. 'Tis the crown and glory of organic science that it DOES through FINAL CAUSE, link material and moral; and yet DOES NOT allow us to mingle them in our first conception of laws, and our classification of such laws, whether we consider one side of nature or the other. You have ignored this link; and, if I do not mistake your meaning, you have done your best in one or two pregnant cases to break it. Were it possible (which, thank God, it is not) to break it, humanity, in my mind, would suffer a damage that might brutalize it, and sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history.
Take the case of the bee-cells. If your development produced the successive modification of the bee and its cells (which no mortal can prove), final cause would stand good as the directing cause under which the successive generations acted and gradually improved. Passages in your book, like that to which I have alluded (and there are others almost as bad), greatly shocked my moral taste. I think, in speculating on organic descent, you OVER-state the evidence of geology; and that you UNDER-state it while you are talking of the broken links of your natural pedigree: but my paper is nearly done, and I must go to my lecture-room. Lastly, then, I greatly dislike the concluding chapter--not as a summary, for in that light it appears good--but I dislike it from the tone of triumphant confidence in which you appeal to the rising generation (in a tone I condemned in the author of the 'Vestiges') and prophesy of things not yet in the womb of time, nor (if we are to trust the accumulated experience of human sense and the inferences of its logic) ever likely to be found anywhere but in the fertile womb of man's imagination. And now to say a word about a son of a monkey and an old friend of yours: I am better, far better, than I was last year. I have been lecturing three days a week (formerly I gave six a week) without much fatigue, but I find by the loss of activity and memory, and of all productive powers, that my bodily frame is sinking slowly towards the earth. But I have visions of the future. They are as much a part of myself as my stomach and my heart, and these visions are to have their antitype in solid fruition of what is best and greatest. But on one condition only--that I humbly accept God's revelation of Himself both in his works and in His word, and do my best to act in conformity with that knowledge which He only can give me, and He only can sustain me in doing. If you and I do all this we shall meet in heaven.
I have written in a hurry, and in a spirit of brotherly love, therefore forgive any sentence you happen to dislike; and believe me, spite of any disagreement in some points of the deepest moral interest, your true- hearted old friend,A. SEDGWICK. CHARLES DARWIN TO T.H. HUXLEY. Down, December 25th . My dear Huxley,
One part of your note has pleased me so much that I must thank you for it. Not only Sir H.H. [Holland], but several others, have attacked me about analogy leading to belief in one primordial CREATED form. ('Origin,' edition i. page 484.--"Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed.") (By which I mean only that we know nothing as yet [of] how life originates.) I thought I was universally condemned on this head. But I answered that though perhaps it would have been more prudent not to have put it in, I would not strike it out, as it seemed to me probable, and I give it on no other grounds. You will see in your mind the kind of arguments which made me think it probable, and no one fact had so great an effect on me as your most curious remarks on the apparent homologies of the head of Vertebrata and Articulata.
You have done a real good turn in the Agency business ("My General Agent" was a sobriquet applied at this time by my father to Mr. Huxley.) (I never before heard of a hard-working, unpaid agent besides yourself), in talking with Sir H.H., for he will have great influence over many. He floored me from my ignorance about the bones of the ear, and I made a mental note to ask you what the facts were.
With hearty thanks and real admiration for your generous zeal for the subject. Yours most truly, C. DARWIN.
You may smile about the care and precautions I have taken about my ugly MS. (Manuscript left with Mr. Huxley for his perusal.); it is not so much the value I set on them, but the remembrance of the intolerable labour--for instance, in tracing the history of the breeds of pigeons.CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, 25th [December, 1859].
...I shall not write to Decaisne (With regard to Naudin's paper in the 'Revue Horticole,' 1852.); I have always had a strong feeling that no one had better defend his own priority. I cannot say that I am as indifferent to the subject as I ought to be, but one can avoid doing anything in consequence.
I do not believe one iota about your having assimilated any of my notions unconsciously. You have always done me more than justice. But I do think I did you a bad turn by getting you to read the old MS., as it must have checked your own original thoughts. There is one thing I am fully convinced of, that the future progress (which is the really important point) of the subject will have depended on really good and well-known workers, like yourself, Lyell, and Huxley, having taken up the subject, than on my own work. I see plainly it is this that strikes my non- scientific friends.Last night I said to myself, I would just cut your Introduction, but would not begin to read, but I broke down, and had a good hour's read. Farewell, yours affectionately, C. DARWIN. CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. December 28th, 1859.
...Have you seen the splendid essay and notice of my book in the "Times"? (December 26th.) I cannot avoid a strong suspicion that it is by Huxley; but I never heard that he wrote in the "Times". It will do grand service,...C. DARWIN TO T.H. HUXLEY. Down, December 28th . My dear Huxley,
Yesterday evening, when I read the "Times" of a previous day, I was amazed to find a splendid essay and review of me. Who can the author be? I am intensely curious. It included an eulogium of me which quite touched me, though I am not vain enough to think it all deserved. The author is a literary man, and German scholar. He has read my book very attentively; but, what is very remarkable, it seems that he is a profound naturalist. He knows my Barnacle-book, and appreciates it too highly. Lastly, he writes and thinks with quite uncommon force and clearness; and what is even still rarer, his writing is seasoned with most pleasant wit. We all laughed heartily over some of the sentences. I was charmed with those unreasonable mortals, who know anything, all thinking fit to range themselves on one side. (The reviewer proposes to pass by the orthodox view, according to which the phenomena of the organic world are "the immediate product of a creative fiat, and consequently are out of the domain of science altogether." And he does so "with less hesitation, as it so happens that those persons who are practically conversant with the facts of the case (plainly a considerable advantage) have always thought fit to range themselves" in the category of those holding "views which profess to rest on a scientific basis only, and therefore admit of being argued to their consequences.") Who can it be? Certainly I should have said that there was only one man in England who could have written this essay, and that YOU were the man. But I suppose I am wrong, and that there is some hidden genius of great calibre. For how could you influence Jupiter Olympius and make him give three and a half columns to pure science? The old fogies will think the world will come to an end. Well, whoever the man is, he has done great service to the cause, far more than by a dozen reviews in common periodicals. The grand way he soars above common religious prejudices, and the admission of such views into the "Times", I look at as of the highest importance, quite independently of the mere question of species. If you should happen to be ACQUAINTED with the author, for Heaven-sake tell me who he is?My dear Huxley, yours most sincerely, C. DARWIN.
[It is impossible to give in a short space an adequate idea of Mr. Huxley's article in the "Times" of December 26. It is admirably planned, so as to claim for the 'Origin' a respectful hearing, and it abstains from anything like dogmatism in asserting the truth of the doctrines therein upheld. A few passages may be quoted:--"That this most ingenious hypothesis enables us to give a reason for many apparent anomalies in the distribution of living beings in time and space, and that it is not contradicted by the main phenomena of life and organisation, appear to us to be unquestionable." Mr. Huxley goes on to recommend to the readers of the 'Origin' a condition of "thatige Skepsis"--a state of "doubt which so loves truth that it neither dares rest in doubting, nor extinguish itself by unjustified belief." The final paragraph is in a strong contrast to Professor Sedgwick and his "ropes of bubbles" (see below). Mr. Huxley writes: "Mr. Darwin abhors mere speculation as nature abhors a vacuum. He is as greedy of cases and precedents as any constitutional lawyer, and all the principles he lays down are capable of being brought to the test of observation and experiment. The path he bids us follow professes to be not a mere airy track, fabricated of ideal cobwebs, but a solid and broad bridge of facts. If it be so, it will carry us safely over many a chasm in our knowledge, and lead us to a region free from the snares of those fascinating but barren virgins, the Final Causes, against whom a high authority has so justly warned us."
There can be no doubt that this powerful essay, appearing as it did in the leading daily Journal, must have had a strong influence on the reading public. Mr. Huxley allows me to quote from a letter an account of the happy chance that threw into his hands the opportunity of writing it.
"The 'Origin' was sent to Mr. Lucas, one of the staff of the "Times" writers at that day, in what I suppose was the ordinary course of business. Mr. Lucas, though an excellent journalist, and, at a later period, editor of 'Once a Week,' was as innocent of any knowledge of science as a babe, and bewailed himself to an acquaintance on having to deal with such a book. Whereupon he was recommended to ask me to get him out of his difficulty, and he applied to me accordingly, explaining, however, that it would be necessary for him formally to adopt anything I might be disposed to write, by prefacing it with two or three paragraphs of his own.
"I was too anxious to seize upon the opportunity thus offered of giving the book a fair chance with the multitudinous readers of the "Times" to make any difficulty about conditions; and being then very full of the subject, I wrote the article faster, I think, than I ever wrote anything in my life, and sent it to Mr. Lucas, who duly prefixed his opening sentences.
"When the article appeared, there was much speculation as to its authorship. The secret leaked out in time, as all secrets will, but not by my aid; and then I used to derive a good deal of innocent amusement from the vehement assertions of some of my more acute friends, that they knew it was mine from the first paragraph!
"As the "Times" some years since, referred to my connection with the review, I suppose there will be no breach of confidence in the publication of this little history, if you think it worth the space it will occupy."]