Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume I

Part 9 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume I - Full Text Free Book (Part 9/10) pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

death, from scarlet fever, of his infant child.) on the subject, but soon
will. But I can see that you have acted with more kindness, and so has
Lyell, even than I could have expected from you both, most kind as you are.

I can easily get my letter to Asa Gray copied, but it is too short.

...God bless you. You shall hear soon, as soon as I can think.

Yours affectionately,

Tuesday night [June 29, 1858].

My dear Hooker,

I have just read your letter, and see you want the papers at once. I am
quite prostrated, and can do nothing, but I send Wallace, and the abstract
("Abstract" is here used in the sense of "extract;" in this sense also it
occurs in the 'Linnean Journal,' where the sources of my father's paper are
described.) of my letter to Asa Gray, which gives most imperfectly only the
means of change, and does not touch on reasons for believing that species
do change. I dare say all is too late. I hardly care about it. But you
are too generous to sacrifice so much time and kindness. It is most
generous, most kind. I send my sketch of 1844 solely that you may see by
your own handwriting that you did read it. I really cannot bear to look at
it. Do not waste much time. It is miserable in me to care at all about

The table of contents will show what it is.

I would make a similar, but shorter and more accurate sketch for the
'Linnean Journal.'

I will do anything. God bless you, my dear kind friend.

I can write no more. I send this by my servant to Kew.


[The following letter is that already referred to as forming part of the
joint paper published in the Linnean Society's 'Journal,' 1858]:--

Down, September 5th [1857]. (The date is given as October in the 'Linnean
Journal.' The extracts were printed from a duplicate undated copy in my
father's possession, on which he had written, "This was sent to Asa Gray 8
or 9 months ago, I think October 1857.")

My dear Gray,

I forget the exact words which I used in my former letter, but I dare say I
said that I thought you would utterly despise me when I told you what views
I had arrived at, which I did because I thought I was bound as an honest
man to do so. I should have been a strange mortal, seeing how much I owe
to your quite extraordinary kindness, if in saying this I had meant to
attribute the least bad feeling to you. Permit me to tell you that, before
I had ever corresponded with you, Hooker had shown me several of your
letters (not of a private nature), and these gave me the warmest feeling of
respect to you; and I should indeed be ungrateful if your letters to me,
and all I have heard of you, had not strongly enhanced this feeling. But I
did not feel in the least sure that when you knew whither I was tending,
that you might not think me so wild and foolish in my views (God knows,
arrived at slowly enough, and I hope conscientiously), that you would think
me worth no more notice or assistance. To give one example: the last time
I saw my dear old friend Falconer, he attacked me most vigorously, but
quite kindly, and told me, "You will do more harm than any ten Naturalists
will do good. I can see that you have already CORRUPTED and half-spoiled
Hooker!!" Now when I see such strong feeling in my oldest friends, you
need not wonder that I always expect my views to be received with contempt.
But enough and too much of this.

I thank you most truly for the kind spirit of your last letter. I agree to
every word in it, and think I go as far as almost any one in seeing the
grave difficulties against my doctrine. With respect to the extent to
which I go, all the arguments in favour of my notions fall RAPIDLY away,
the greater the scope of forms considered. But in animals, embryology
leads me to an enormous and frightful range. The facts which kept me
longest scientifically orthodox are those of adaptation--the pollen-masses
in asclepias--the mistletoe, with its pollen carried by insects, and seed
by birds--the woodpecker, with its feet and tail, beak and tongue, to climb
the tree and secure insects. To talk of climate or Lamarckian habit
producing such adaptations to other organic beings is futile. This
difficulty I believe I have surmounted. As you seem interested in the
subject, and as it is an IMMENSE advantage to me to write to you and to
hear, ever so briefly, what you think, I will enclose (copied, so as to
save you trouble in reading) the briefest abstract of my notions on the
means by which Nature makes her species. Why I think that species have
really changed, depends on general facts in the affinities, embryology,
rudimentary organs, geological history, and geographical distribution of
organic beings. In regard to my Abstract, you must take immensely on
trust, each paragraph occupying one or two chapters in my book. You will,
perhaps, think it paltry in me, when I ask you not to mention my doctrine;
the reason is, if any one, like the author of the 'Vestiges,' were to hear
of them, he might easily work them in, and then I should have to quote from
a work perhaps despised by naturalists, and this would greatly injure any
chance of my views being received by those alone whose opinions I value.
[Here follows a discussion on "large genera varying," which has no direct
connection with the remainder of the letter.]

I. It is wonderful what the principle of Selection by Man, that is the
picking out of individuals with any desired quality, and breeding from
them, and again picking out, can do. Even breeders have been astonished at
their own results. They can act on differences inappreciable to an
uneducated eye. Selection has been METHODICALLY followed in Europe for
only the last half century. But it has occasionally, and even in some
degree methodically, been followed in the most ancient times. There must
have been also a kind of unconscious selection from the most ancient times,
namely, in the preservation of the individual animals (without any thought
of their offspring) most useful to each race of man in his particular
circumstances. The "roguing," as nursery-men call the destroying of
varieties, which depart from their type, is a kind of selection. I am
convinced that intentional and occasional selection has been the main agent
in making our domestic races. But, however this may be, its great power of
modification has been indisputedly shown in late times. Selection acts
only by the accumulation of very slight or greater variations, caused by
external conditions, or by the mere fact that in generation the child is
not absolutely similar to its parent. Man, by this power of accumulating
variations, adapts living beings to his wants--he MAY BE SAID to make the
wool of one sheep good for carpets, and another for cloth, etc.

II. Now, suppose there was a being, who did not judge by mere external
appearance, but could study the whole internal organisation--who never was
capricious--who should go on selecting for one end during millions of
generations, who will say what he might not effect! In nature we have some
SLIGHT variations, occasionally in all parts: and I think it can be shown
that a change in the conditions of existence is the main cause of the child
not exactly resembling its parents; and in nature, geology shows us what
changes have taken place, and are taking place. We have almost unlimited
time: no one but a practical geologist can fully appreciate this: think
of the Glacial period, during the whole of which the same species of shells
at least have existed; there must have been during this period, millions on
millions of generations.

III. I think it can be shown that there is such an unerring power at work,
or NATURAL SELECTION (the title of my book), which selects exclusively for
the good of each organic being. The elder De Candolle, W. Herbert, and
Lyell, have written strongly on the struggle for life; but even they have
not written strongly enough. Reflect that every being (even the elephant)
breeds at such a rate that, in a few years, or at most a few centuries or
thousands of years, the surface of the earth would not hold the progeny of
any one species. I have found it hard constantly to bear in mind that the
increase of every single species is checked during some part of its life,
or during some shortly recurrent generation. Only a few of those annually
born can live to propagate their kind. What a trifling difference must
often determine which shall survive and which perish.

IV. Now take the case of a country undergoing some change; this will tend
to cause some of its inhabitants to vary slightly; not but what I believe
most beings vary at all times enough for selection to act on. Some of its
inhabitants will be exterminated, and the remainder will be exposed to the
mutual action of a different set of inhabitants, which I believe to be more
important to the life of each being than mere climate. Considering the
infinitely various ways beings have to obtain food by struggling with other
beings, to escape danger at various times of life, to have their eggs or
seeds disseminated, etc., etc., I cannot doubt that during millions of
generations individuals of a species will be born with some slight
variation profitable to some part of its economy; such will have a better
chance of surviving, propagating this variation, which again will be slowly
increased by the accumulative action of natural selection; and the variety
thus formed will either coexist with, or more commonly will exterminate its
parent form. An organic being like the woodpecker, or the mistletoe, may
thus come to be adapted to a score of contingencies; natural selection,
accumulating those slight variations in all parts of its structure which
are in any way useful to it, during any part of its life.

V. Multiform difficulties will occur to every one on this theory. Most
can, I think, be satisfactorily answered.--"Natura non facit saltum" answer
some of the most obvious. The slowness of the change, and only a very few
undergoing change at any one time answers others. The extreme
imperfections of our geological records answers others.

VI. One other principle, which may be called the principle of divergence,
plays, I believe, an important part in the origin of species. The same
spot will support more life if occupied by very diverse forms: we see this
in the many generic forms in a square yard of turf (I have counted twenty
species belonging to eighteen genera), or in the plants and insects, on any
little uniform islet, belonging to almost as many genera and families as to
species. We can understand this with the higher animals, whose habits we
best understand. We know that it has been experimentally shown that a plot
of land will yield a greater weight, if cropped with several species of
grasses, than with two or three species. Now every single organic being,
by propagating rapidly, may be said to be striving its utmost to increase
in numbers. So it will be with the offspring of any species after it has
broken into varieties, or sub-species, or true species. And it follows, I
think, from the foregoing facts, that the varying offspring of each species
will try (only a few will succeed) to seize on as many and as diverse
places in the economy of nature as possible. Each new variety or species
when formed will generally take the place of, and so exterminate its less
well-fitted parent. This, I believe, to be the origin of the
classification or arrangement of all organic beings at all times. These
always SEEM to branch and sub-branch like a tree from a common trunk; the
flourishing twigs destroying the less vigorous--the dead and lost branches
rudely representing extinct genera and families.

This sketch is MOST imperfect; but in so short a space I cannot make it
better. Your imagination must fill up many wide blanks. Without some
reflection, it will appear all rubbish; perhaps it will appear so after


P.S.--This little abstract touches only the accumulative power of natural
selection, which I look at as by far the most important element in the
production of new forms. The laws governing the incipient or primordial
variation (unimportant except as the groundwork for selection to act on, in
which respect it is all important), I shall discuss under several heads,
but I can come, as you may well believe, only to very partial and imperfect

[The joint paper of Mr. Wallace and my father was read at the Linnean
Society on the evening of July 1st. Sir Charles Lyell and Sir J.D. Hooker
were present, and both, I believe, made a few remarks, chiefly with a view
of impressing on those present the necessity of giving the most careful
consideration to what they had heard. There was, however, no semblance of
a discussion. Sir Joseph Hooker writes to me: "The interest excited was
intense, but the subject was too novel and too ominous for the old school
to enter the lists, before armouring. After the meeting it was talked over
with bated breath: Lyell's approval, and perhaps in a small way mine, as
his lieutenant in the affair, rather overawed the Fellows, who would
otherwise have flown out against the doctrine. We had, too, the vantage
ground of being familiar with the authors and their theme."]

Down, July 5th [1858].

My dear Hooker,

We are become more happy and less panic-struck, now that we have sent out
of the house every child, and shall remove H.,as soon as she can move. The
first nurse became ill with ulcerated throat and quinsey, and the second is
now ill with the scarlet fever, but, thank God, is recovering. You may
imagine how frightened we have been. It has been a most miserable
fortnight. Thank you much for your note, telling me that all had gone on
prosperously at the Linnean Society. You must let me once again tell you
how deeply I feel your generous kindness and Lyell's on this occasion. But
in truth it shames me that you should have lost time on a mere point of
priority. I shall be curious to see the proofs. I do not in the least
understand whether my letter to A. Gray is to be printed; I suppose not,
only your note; but I am quite indifferent, and place myself absolutely in
your and Lyell's hands.

I can easily prepare an abstract of my whole work, but I can hardly see how
it can be made scientific for a Journal, without giving facts, which would
be impossible. Indeed, a mere abstract cannot be very short. Could you
give me any idea how many pages of the Journal could probably be spared me?

Directly after my return home, I would begin and cut my cloth to my
measure. If the Referees were to reject it as not strictly scientific, I
could, perhaps publish it as a pamphlet.

With respect to my big interleaved abstract (The Sketch of 1844.), would
you send it any time before you leave England, to the enclosed address? If
you do not go till August 7th-10th, I should prefer it left with you. I
hope you have jotted criticisms on my MS. on big Genera, etc., sufficient
to make you remember your remarks, as I should be infinitely sorry to lose
them. And I see no chance of our meeting if you go soon abroad. We thank
you heartily for your invitation to join you: I can fancy nothing which I
should enjoy more; but our children are too delicate for us to leave; I
should be mere living lumber.

Lastly, you said you would write to Wallace; I certainly should much like
this, as it would quite exonerate me: if you would send me your note,
sealed up, I would forward it with my own, as I know the address, etc.

Will you answer me sometime about your notions of the length of my

If you see Lyell, will you tell him how truly grateful I feel for his kind
interest in this affair of mine. You must know that I look at it, as very
important, for the reception of the view of species not being immutable,
the fact of the greatest Geologist and Botanist in England taking ANY SORT
OF INTEREST in the subject: I am sure it will do much to break down

Yours affectionately,

Miss Wedgwood's, Hartfield, Tunbridge Wells,
[July 13th, 1858].

My dear Hooker,

Your letter to Wallace seems to me perfect, quite clear and most courteous.
I do not think it could possibly be improved, and I have to day forwarded
it with a letter of my own. I always thought it very possible that I might
be forestalled, but I fancied that I had a grand enough soul not to care;
but I found myself mistaken and punished; I had, however, quite resigned
myself, and had written half a letter to Wallace to give up all priority to
him, and should certainly not have changed had it not been for Lyell's and
your quite extraordinary kindness. I assure you I feel it, and shall not
forget it. I am MORE than satisfied at what took place at the Linnean
Society. I had thought that your letter and mine to Asa Gray were to be
only an appendix to Wallace's paper.

We go from here in a few days to the sea-side, probably to the Isle of
Wight, and on my return (after a battle with pigeon skeletons) I will set
to work at the abstract, though how on earth I shall make anything of an
abstract in thirty pages of the Journal, I know not, but will try my best.
I shall order Bentham; is it not a pity that you should waste time in
tabulating varieties? for I can get the Down schoolmaster to do it on my
return, and can tell you all the results.

I must try and see you before your journey; but do not think I am fishing
to ask you to come to Down, for you will have no time for that.

You cannot imagine how pleased I am that the notion of Natural Selection
has acted as a purgative on your bowels of immutability. Whenever
naturalists can look at species changing as certain, what a magnificent
field will be open,--on all the laws of variation,--on the genealogy of all
living beings,--on their lines of migration, etc., etc. Pray thank Mrs.
Hooker for her very kind little note, and pray, say how truly obliged I am,
and in truth ashamed to think that she should have had the trouble of
copying my ugly MS. It was extraordinarily kind in her. Farewell, my dear
kind friend.

Yours affectionately,

P.S.--I have had some fun here in watching a slave-making ant; for I could
not help rather doubting the wonderful stories, but I have now seen a
defeated marauding party, and I have seen a migration from one nest to
another of the slave-makers, carrying their slaves (who are HOUSE, and not
field niggers) in their mouths!

I am inclined to think that it is a true generalisation that, when honey is
secreted at one point of the circle of the corolla, if the pistil bends, it
always bends into the line of the gangway to the honey. The Larkspur is a
good instance, in contrast to Columbine,--if you think of it, just attend
to this little point.

King's Head Hotel, Sandown, Isle of Wight, July 18th [1858].

...We are established here for ten days, and then go on to Shanklin, which
seems more amusing to one, like myself, who cannot walk. We hope much that
the sea may do H. and L. good. And if it does, our expedition will answer,
but not otherwise.

I have never half thanked you for all the extraordinary trouble and
kindness you showed me about Wallace's affair. Hooker told me what was
done at the Linnean Society, and I am far more than satisfied, and I do not
think that Wallace can think my conduct unfair in allowing you and Hooker
to do whatever you thought fair. I certainly was a little annoyed to lose
all priority, but had resigned myself to my fate. I am going to prepare a
longer abstract; but it is really impossible to do justice to the subject,
except by giving the facts on which each conclusion is grounded, and that
will, of course, be absolutely impossible. Your name and Hooker's name
appearing as in any way the least interested in my work will, I am certain,
have the most important bearing in leading people to consider the subject
without prejudice. I look at this as so very important, that I am almost
glad of Wallace's paper for having led to this.

My dear Lyell, yours most gratefully,

[The following letter refers to the proof-sheets of the Linnean paper. The
'introduction' means the prefatory letter signed by Sir C. Lyell and Sir
J.D. Hooker.]

King's Head Hotel, Sandown, Isle of Wight,
July 21st [1858].

My dear Hooker,

I received only yesterday the proof-sheets, which I now return. I think
your introduction cannot be improved.

I am disgusted with my bad writing. I could not improve it, without
rewriting all, which would not be fair or worth while, as I have begun on a
better abstract for the Linnean Society. My excuse is that it NEVER was
intended for publication. I have made only a few corrections in the style;
but I cannot make it decent, but I hope moderately intelligible. I suppose
some one will correct the revise. (Shall I?)

Could I have a clean proof to send to Wallace?

I have not yet fully considered your remarks on big genera (but your
general concurrence is of the HIGHEST POSSIBLE interest to me); nor shall I
be able till I re-read my MS.; but you may rely on it that you never make a
remark to me which is lost from INATTENTION. I am particularly glad you do
not object to my stating your objections in a modified form, for they
always struck me as very important, and as having much inherent value,
whether or no they were fatal to my notions. I will consider and
reconsider all your remarks...

I have ordered Bentham, for, as -- says, it will be very curious to see a
Flora written by a man who knows nothing of British plants!!

I am very glad at what you say about my Abstract, but you may rely on it
that I will condense to the utmost. I would aid in money if it is too
long. (That is to say, he would help to pay for the printing, if it should
prove too long for the Linnean Society.) In how many ways you have aided

Yours affectionately,

[The 'Abstract' mentioned in the last sentence of the preceding letter was
in fact the 'Origin of Species,' on which he now set to work. In his
'Autobiography' he speaks of beginning to write in September, but in his
Diary he wrote, "July 20 to August 12, at Sandown, began Abstract of
Species book." "September 16, Recommenced Abstract." The book was begun
with the idea that it would be published as a paper, or series of papers,
by the Linnean Society, and it was only in the late autumn that it became
clear that it must take the form of an independent volume.]

Norfolk House, Shanklin, Isle of Wight,
Friday [July] 30th [1858].

My dear Hooker,

Will you give the enclosed scrap to Sir William to thank him for his
kindness; and this gives me an excuse to amuse myself by writing to you a
note, which requires no answer.

This is a very charming place, and we have got a very comfortable house.
But, alas, I cannot say that the sea has done H. or L. much good. Nor has
my stomach recovered from all our troubles. I am very glad we left home,
for six children have now died of scarlet fever in Down. We return on the
14th of August.

I have got Bentham ('British Flora.'), and am charmed with it, and William
(who has just started for a tour abroad) has been making out all sorts of
new (to me) plants capitally. The little scraps of information are so
capital...The English names in the analytical keys drive us mad: give them
by all means, but why on earth [not] make them subordinate to the Latin; it
puts me in a passion. W. charged into the Compositae and Umbelliferae like
a hero, and demolished ever so many in grand style.

I pass my time by doing daily a couple of hours of my Abstract, and I find
it amusing and improving work. I am now most heartily obliged to you and
Lyell for having set me on this; for I shall, when it is done, be able to
finish my work with greater ease and leisure. I confess I hated the
thought of the job; and now I find it very unsatisfactory in not being able
to give my reasons for each conclusion.

I will be longer than I expected; it will take thirty-five of my MS. folio
pages to give an abstract on variation under domestication alone; but I
will try to put in nothing which does not seem to me of some interest, and
which was once new to me. It seems a queer plan to give an abstract of an
unpublished work; nevertheless, I repeat, I am extremely glad I have begun
in earnest on it.

I hope you and Mrs. Hooker will have a very very pleasant tour. Farewell,
my dear Hooker.

Yours affectionately,

Norfolk House, Shanklin, Isle of Wight,
Thursday [August 5, 1858].

My dear Hooker,

I should think the note apologetical about the style of the abstract was
best as a note...But I write now to ask you to send me by return of post
the MS. on big genera, that I may make an abstract of a couple of pages in
length. I presume that you have quite done with it, otherwise I would not
for anything have it back. If you tie it with string, and mark it MS. for
printing, it will not cost, I should think, more than 4 pence. I shall
wish much to say that you have read this MS. and concur; but you shall,
before I read it to the Society, hear the sentence.

What you tell me after speaking with Busk about the length of the Abstract
is an IMMENSE relief to me; it will make the labour far less, not having to
shorten so much every single subject; but I will try not to be too
diffusive. I fear it will spoil all interest in my book (The larger book
begun in 1856.), whenever published. The Abstract will do very well to
divide into several parts: thus I have just finished "Variation under
Domestication," in forty-four MS. pages, and that would do for one evening;
but I should be extremely sorry if all could not be published together.

What else you say about my Abstract pleases me highly, but frightens me,
for I fear I shall never be able to make it good enough. But how I do run
on about my own affairs to you!

I was astonished to see Sir W. Hooker's card here two or three days ago: I
was unfortunately out walking. Henslow, also, has written to me, proposing
to come to Down on the 9th, but alas, I do not return till the 13th, and my
wife not till a week later; so that I am also most sorry to think I shall
not see you, for I should not like to leave home so soon. I had thought of
going to London and running down for an hour or two to Kew...

Norfolk House, Shanklin, Isle of Wight,
[August] [1858].

My dear Hooker,

I write merely to say that the MS. came safely two or three days ago. I am
much obliged for the correction of style: I find it unutterably difficult
to write clearly. When we meet I must talk over a few points on the

You speak of going to the sea-side somewhere; we think this the nicest
seaside place which we have ever seen, and we like Shanklin better than
other spots on the south coast of the island, though many are charming and
prettier, so that I would suggest your thinking of this place. We are on
the actual coast; but tastes differ so much about places.

If you go to Broadstairs, when there is a strong wind from the coast of
France and in fine, dry, warm weather, look out, and you will PROBABLY (!)
see thistle-seeds blown across the Channel. The other day I saw one blown
right inland, and then in a few minutes a second one and then a third; and
I said to myself, God bless me, how many thistles there must be in France;
and I wrote a letter in imagination to you. But I then looked at the LOW
clouds, and noticed that they were not coming inland, so I feared a screw
was loose. I then walked beyond a headland, and found the wind parallel to
the coast, and on this very headland a noble bed of thistles, which by
every wide eddy were blown far out to sea, and then came right in at right
angles to the shore! One day such a number of insects were washed up by the
tide, and I brought to life thirteen species of Coleoptera; not that I
suppose these came from France. But do you watch for thistle-seed as you
saunter along the coast...

August 11th [1858].

My dear Gray,

Your note of July 27th has just reached me in the Isle of Wight. It is a
real and great pleasure to me to write to you about my notions; and even if
it were not so, I should be a most ungrateful dog, after all the invaluable
assistance you have rendered me, if I did not do anything which you asked.

I have discussed in my long MS. the later changes of climate and the effect
on migration, and I will here give you an ABSTRACT of an ABSTRACT (which
latter I am preparing of my whole work for the Linnean Society). I cannot
give you facts, and I must write dogmatically, though I do not feel so on
any point. I may just mention, in order that you may believe that I have
SOME foundation for my views, that Hooker has read my MS., and though he at
first demurred to my main point, he has since told me that further
reflection and new facts have made him a convert.

In the older, or perhaps newer, Pliocene age (a little BEFORE the Glacial
epoch) the temperature was higher; of this there can be little doubt; the
land, on a LARGE SCALE, held much its present disposition: the species
were mainly, judging from shells, what they are now. At this period when
all animals and plants ranged 10 or 15 degrees nearer the poles, I believe
the northern part of Siberia and of North America being almost CONTINUOUS,
were peopled (it is quite possible, considering the shallow water, that
Behring Straits were united, perhaps a little southward) by a nearly
uniform fauna and flora, just as the Arctic regions now are. The climate
then became gradually colder till it became what it now is; and then the
temperate parts of Europe and America would be separated, as far as
migration is concerned, just as they now are. Then came on the Glacial
period, driving far south all living things; middle or even southern Europe
being peopled with Arctic productions; as the warmth returned, the Arctic
productions slowly crawled up the mountains as they became denuded of snow;
and we now see on their summits the remnants of a once continuous flora and
fauna. This is E. Forbes' theory, which, however, I may add, I had written
out four years before he published.

Some facts have made me vaguely SUSPECT that between the glacial and the
present temperature there was a period of SLIGHTLY greater warmth.
According to my modification-doctrines, I look at many of the species of
North America which CLOSELY represent those of Europe, as having become
modified since the Pliocene period, when in the northern part of the world
there was nearly free communication between the old and new worlds. But
now comes a more important consideration; there is a considerable body of
geological evidence that during the Glacial epoch the whole world was
colder; I inferred that, many years ago, from erratic boulder phenomena
carefully observed by me on both the east and west coast of South America.
Now I am so bold as to believe that at the height of the Glacial epoch, AND
several temperate forms slowly travelled into the heart of the Tropics, and
even reached the southern hemisphere; and some few southern forms
penetrated in a reverse direction northward. (Heights of Borneo with
Australian forms, Abyssinia with Cape forms.) Wherever there was nearly
continuous HIGH land, this migration would have been immensely facilitated;
hence the European character of the plants of Tierra del Fuego and summits
of Cordilleras; hence ditto on Himalaya. As the temperature rose, all the
temperate intruders would crawl up the mountains. Hence the European forms
on Nilgherries, Ceylon, summit of Java, Organ Mountains of Brazil. But
these intruders being surrounded with new forms would be very liable to be
improved or modified by natural selection, to adapt them to the new forms
with which they had to compete; hence most of the forms on the mountains of
the Tropics are not identical, but REPRESENTATIVE forms of North temperate

There are similar classes of facts in marine productions. All this will
appear very rash to you, and rash it may be; but I am sure not so rash as
it will at first appear to you: Hooker could not stomach it at all at
first, but has become largely a convert. From mammalia and shallow sea, I
believe Japan to have been joined to main land of China within no remote
period; and then the migration north and south before, during, and after
the Glacial epoch would act on Japan, as on the corresponding latitude of
China and the United States.

I should beyond anything like to know whether you have any Alpine
collections from Japan, and what is their character. This letter is
miserably expressed, but perhaps it will suffice to show what I believe
have been the later main migrations and changes of temperature...

[Down] October 6th, 1858.

...If you have or can make leisure, I should very much like to hear news of
Mrs. Hooker, yourself, and the children. Where did you go, and what did
you do and are doing? There is a comprehensive text.

You cannot tell how I enjoyed your little visit here, it did me much good.
If Harvey is still with you, pray remember me very kindly to him.

...I am working most steadily at my Abstract, but it grows to an inordinate
length; yet fully to make my view clear (and never giving briefly more than
a fact or two, and slurring over difficulties), I cannot make it shorter.
It will yet take me three or four months; so slow do I work, though never
idle. You cannot imagine what a service you have done me in making me make
this Abstract; for though I thought I had got all clear, it has clarified
my brains very much, by making me weigh the relative importance of the
several elements.

I have been reading with much interest your (as I believe it to be) capital
memoir of R. Brown in the "Gardeners' Chronicle"...

Down, October 12th, [1858].

...I have sent eight copies (Of the joint paper by C. Darwin and A.R.
Wallace.) by post to Wallace, and will keep the others for him, for I could
not think of any one to send any to.

I pray you not to pronounce too strongly against Natural Selection, till
you have read my abstract, for though I dare say you will strike out MANY
difficulties, which have never occurred to me; yet you cannot have thought
so fully on the subject as I have.

I expect my Abstract will run into a small volume, which will have to be
published separately...

What a splendid lot of work you have in hand.

Ever yours,

Down, October 13th [1858].

...I have been a little vexed at myself at having asked you not "to
pronounce too strongly against Natural Selection." I am sorry to have
bothered you, though I have been much interested by your note in answer. I
wrote the sentence without reflection. But the truth is, that I have so
accustomed myself, partly from being quizzed by my non-naturalist
relations, to expect opposition and even contempt, that I forgot for the
moment that you are the one living soul from whom I have constantly
received sympathy. Believe [me] that I never forget for even a minute how
much assistance I have received from you. You are quite correct that I
never even suspected that my speculations were a "jam-pot" to you; indeed,
I thought, until quite lately, that my MS. had produced no effect on you,
and this has often staggered me. Nor did I know that you had spoken in
general terms about my work to our friends, excepting to dear old Falconer,
who some few years ago once told me that I should do more mischief than any
ten other naturalists would do good, [and] that I had half spoiled you
already! All this is stupid egotistical stuff, and I write it only because
you may think me ungrateful for not having valued and understood your
sympathy; which God knows is not the case. It is an accursed evil to a man
to become so absorbed in any subject as I am in mine.

I was in London yesterday for a few hours with Falconer, and he gave me a
magnificent lecture on the age of man. We are not upstarts; we can boast
of a pedigree going far back in time coeval with extinct species. He has a
grand fact of some large molar tooth in the Trias.

I am quite knocked up, and am going next Monday to revive under Water-cure
at Moor Park.

My dear Hooker, yours affectionately,

November 1858.

...I had vowed not to mention my everlasting Abstract to you again, for I
am sure I have bothered you far more than enough about it; but, as you
allude to its previous publication, I may say that I have the chapters on
Instinct and Hybridism to abstract, which may take a fortnight each; and my
materials for Palaeontology, Geographical Distribution, and Affinities,
being less worked up, I dare say each of these will take me three weeks, so
that I shall not have done at soonest till April, and then my Abstract will
in bulk make a small volume. I never give more than one or two instances,
and I pass over briefly all difficulties, and yet I cannot make my Abstract
shorter, to be satisfactory, than I am now doing, and yet it will expand to
a small volume...

[About this time my father revived his old knowledge of beetles in helping
his boys in their collecting. He sent a short notice to the
'Entomologist's Weekly Intelligencer,' June 25th, 1859, recording the
capture of Licinus silphoides, Clytus mysticus, Panagaeus 4-pustulatus.
The notice begins with the words, "We three very young collectors having
lately taken in the parish of Down," etc., and is signed by three of his
boys, but was clearly not written by them. I have a vivid recollection of
the pleasure of turning out my bottle of dead beetles for my father to
name, and the excitement, in which he fully shared, when any of them proved
to be uncommon ones. The following letters to Mr. Fox (November 13, 1858),
and to Sir John Lubbock, illustrate this point:]

Down, November 13th [1858].

...W., my son, is now at Christ's College, in the rooms above yours. My
old Gyp, Impey, was astounded to hear that he was my son, and very simply
asked, "Why, has he been long married?" What pleasant hours those were
when I used to come and drink coffee with you daily! I am reminded of old
days by my third boy having just begun collecting beetles, and he caught
the other day Brachinus crepitans, of immortal Whittlesea Mere memory. My
blood boiled with old ardour when he caught a Licinus--a prize unknown to

Thursday [before 1857].

Dear Lubbock,

I do not know whether you care about beetles, but for the chance I send
this in a bottle, which I never remember having seen; though it is
excessively rash to speak from a twenty-five-year old remembrance.
Whenever we meet you can tell me whether you know it...

I feel like an old war-horse at the sound of the trumpet, when I read about
the capturing of rare beetles--is not this a magnanimous simile for a
decayed entomologist?--It really almost makes me long to begin collecting
again. Adios.

"Floreat Entomologia"!--to which toast at Cambridge I have drunk many a
glass of wine. So again, "Floreat Entomologia." N.B. I have NOT now been
drinking any glasses full of wine.


Down, November 25th [1858].

Dear Sir,

I beg permission to thank you sincerely for your very kind present of your
Essays. ('Essays, Scientific, Political, and Speculative,' by Herbert
Spencer, 1858-74.) I have already read several of them with much interest.
Your remarks on the general argument of the so-called development theory
seems to me admirable. I am at present preparing an Abstract of a larger
work on the changes of species; but I treat the subject simply as a
naturalist, and not from a general point of view, otherwise, in my opinion,
your argument could not have been improved on, and might have been quoted
by me with great advantage. Your article on Music has also interested me
much, for I had often thought on the subject, and had come to nearly the
same conclusion with you, though unable to support the notion in any
detail. Furthermore, by a curious coincidence, expression has been for
years a persistent subject with me for LOOSE speculation, and I must
entirely agree with you that all expression has some biological meaning. I
hope to profit by your criticism on style, and with very best thanks, I beg
leave to remain, dear Sir,

Yours truly obliged,

Down, December 24th [1858].

My dear Hooker,

Your news about your unsolicited salary and house is jolly, and creditable
to the Government. My room (28 x 19), with divided room above, with ALL
FIXTURES (and painted), not furniture, and plastered outside, cost about
500 pounds. I am heartily glad of this news.

Your facts about distribution are, indeed, very striking. I remember well
that none of your many wonderful facts in your several works, perplexed me,
for years, more than the migration having been mainly from north to south,
and not in the reverse direction. I have now at last satisfied MYSELF (but
that is very different from satisfying others) on this head; but it would
take a little volume to fully explain myself. I did not for long see the
bearing of a conclusion, at which I had arrived, with respect to this
subject. It is, that species inhabiting a very large area, and therefore
existing in large numbers, and which have been subjected to the severest
competition with many other forms, will have arrived, through natural
selection, at a higher stage of perfection than the inhabitants of a small
area. Thus I explain the fact of so many anomalies, or what may be called
"living fossils," inhabiting now only fresh water, having been beaten out,
and exterminated in the sea, by more improved forms; thus all existing
Ganoid fishes are fresh water, as [are] Lepidosiren and Ornithorhynchus,
etc. The plants of Europe and Asia, as being the largest territory, I look
at as the most "improved," and therefore as being able to withstand the
less-perfected Australian plants; [whilst] these could not resist the
Indian. See how all the productions of New Zealand yield to those of
Europe. I dare say you will think all this utter bosh, but I believe it to
be solid truth.

You will, I think, admit that Australian plants, flourishing so in India,
is no argument that they could hold their own against the ten thousand
natural contingencies of other plants, insects, animals, etc., etc. With
respect to South West Australia and the Cape, I am shut up, and can only
d--n the whole case.

...You say you should like to see my MS., but you did read and approve of
my long Glacial chapter, and I have not yet written my Abstract on the
whole of the Geographical Distribution, nor shall I begin it for two or
three weeks. But either Abstract or the old MS. I should be DELIGHTED to
send you, especially the Abstract chapter...

I have now written 330 folio pages of my abstract, and it will require 150-
200 [more]; so that it will make a printed volume of 400 pages, and must be
printed separately, which I think will be better in many respects. The
subject really seems to me too large for discussion at any Society, and I
believe religion would be brought in by men whom I know.

I am thinking of a 12mo volume, like Lyell's fourth or fifth edition of the

I have written you a scandalously long note. So now good-bye, my dear

Ever yours,

Down, January 20th, 1859.

My dear Hooker,

I should very much like to borrow Heer at some future time, for I want to
read nothing perplexing at present till my Abstract is done. Your last
very instructive letter shall make me very cautious on the hyper-
speculative points we have been discussing.

When you say you cannot master the train of thoughts, I know well enough
that they are too doubtful and obscure to be mastered. I have often
experienced what you call the humiliating feeling of getting more and more
involved in doubt the more one thinks of the facts and reasoning on
doubtful points. But I always comfort myself with thinking of the future,
and in the full belief that the problems which we are just entering on,
will some day be solved; and if we just break the ground we shall have done
some service, even if we reap no harvest.

I quite agree that we only differ in DEGREE about the means of dispersal,
and that I think a satisfactory amount of accordance. You put in a very
striking manner the mutation of our continents, and I quite agree; I doubt
only about our oceans.

I also agree (I am in a very agreeing frame of mind) with your argumentum
ad hominem, about the highness of the Australian Flora from the number of
species and genera; but here comes in a superlative bothering element of
doubt, viz., the effect of isolation.

The only point in which I PRESUMPTUOUSLY rather demur is about the status
of the naturalised plants in Australia. I think Muller speaks of their
having spread largely beyond cultivated ground; and I can hardly believe
that our European plants would occupy stations so barren that the native
plants could not live there. I should require much evidence to make me
believe this. I have written this note merely to thank you, as you will
see it requires no answer.

I have heard to my amazement this morning from Phillips that the Geological
Council have given me the Wollaston Medal!!!

Ever yours,

Down, January 23d, 1859.

...I enclose letters to you and me from Wallace. I admire extremely the
spirit in which they are written. I never felt very sure what he would
say. He must be an amiable man. Please return that to me, and Lyell ought
to be told how well satisfied he is. These letters have vividly brought
before me how much I owe to your and Lyell's most kind and generous conduct
in all this affair.

...How glad I shall be when the Abstract is finished, and I can rest!...

Down, January 25th [1859].

My dear Sir,

I was extremely much pleased at receiving three days ago your letter to me
and that to Dr. Hooker. Permit me to say how heartily I admire the spirit
in which they are written. Though I had absolutely nothing whatever to do
in leading Lyell and Hooker to what they thought a fair course of action,
yet I naturally could not but feel anxious to hear what your impression
would be. I owe indirectly much to you and them; for I almost think that
Lyell would have proved right, and I should never have completed my larger
work, for I have found my Abstract hard enough with my poor health, but
now, thank God, I am in my last chapter but one. My Abstract will make a
small volume of 400 or 500 pages. Whenever published, I will, of course,
send you a copy, and then you will see what I mean about the part which I
believe selection has played with domestic productions. It is a very
different part, as you suppose, from that played by "Natural Selection." I
sent off, by the same address as this note, a copy of the 'Journal of the
Linnean Society,' and subsequently I have sent some half-dozen copies of
the paper. I have many other copies at your disposal...

I am glad to hear that you have been attending to birds' nests. I have
done so, though almost exclusively under one point of view, viz., to show
that instincts vary, so that selection could work on and improve them. Few
other instincts, so to speak, can be preserved in a Museum.

Many thanks for your offer to look after horses' stripes; If there are any
donkeys, pray add them. I am delighted to hear that you have collected
bees' combs...This is an especial hobby of mine, and I think I can throw a
light on the subject. If you can collect duplicates, at no very great
expense, I should be glad of some specimens for myself with some bees of
each kind. Young, growing, and irregular combs, and those which have not
had pupae, are most valuable for measurements and examination. Their edges
should be well protected against abrasion.

Every one whom I have seen has thought your paper very well written and
interesting. It puts my extracts (written in 1839, now just twenty years
ago!), which I must say in apology were never for an instant intended for
publication, into the shade.

You ask about Lyell's frame of mind. I think he is somewhat staggered, but
does not give in, and speaks with horror, often to me, of what a thing it
would be, and what a job it would be for the next edition of 'The
Principles,' if he were "PERverted." But he is most candid and honest, and
I think will end by being PERverted. Dr. Hooker has become almost as
heterodox as you or I, and I look at Hooker as BY FAR the most capable
judge in Europe.

Most cordially do I wish you health and entire success in all your
pursuits, and, God knows, if admirable zeal and energy deserve success,
most amply do you deserve it. I look at my own career as nearly run out.
If I can publish my Abstract and perhaps my greater work on the same
subject, I shall look at my course as done.

Believe me, my dear sir, yours very sincerely,

Down, March 2nd [1859].

My dear Hooker,

Here is an odd, though very little, fact. I think it would be hardly
possible to name a bird which apparently could have less to do with
distribution than a Petrel. Sir W. Milner, at St. Kilda, cut open some
young nestling Petrels, and he found large, curious nuts in their crops; I
suspect picked up by parent birds from the Gulf stream. He seems to value
these nuts excessively. I have asked him (but I doubt whether he will) to
send a nut to Sir William Hooker (I gave this address for grandeur sake) to
see if any of you can name it and its native country. Will you PLEASE
MENTION this to Sir William Hooker, and if the nut does arrive, will you
oblige me by returning it to "Sir W. Milner, Bart., Nunappleton,
Tadcaster," in a registered letter, and I will repay you postage. Enclose
slip of paper with the name and country if you can, and let me hereafter
know. Forgive me asking you to take this much trouble; for it is a funny
little fact after my own heart.

Now for another subject. I have finished my Abstract of the chapter on
Geographical Distribution, as bearing on my subject. I should like you
much to read it; but I say this, believing that you will not do so, if, as
I believe to be the case, you are extra busy. On my honour, I shall not be
mortified, and I earnestly beg you not to do it, if it will bother you. I
want it, because I here feel especially unsafe, and errors may have crept
in. Also, I should much like to know what parts you will MOST VEHEMENTLY
object to. I know we do, and must, differ widely on several heads.
Lastly, I should like particularly to know whether I have taken anything
from you, which you would like to retain for first publication; but I think
I have chiefly taken from your published works, and, though I have several
times, in this chapter and elsewhere, acknowledged your assistance, I am
aware that it is not possible for me in the Abstract to do it sufficiently.
("I never did pick any one's pocket, but whilst writing my present chapter
I keep on feeling (even when differing most from you) just as if I were
stealing from you, so much do I owe to your writings and conversation, so
much more than mere acknowledgments show."--Letter to Sir J.D. Hooker,
1859.) But again let me say that you must not offer to read it if very
irksome. It is long--about ninety pages, I expect, when fully copied out.

I hope you are all well. Moor Park has done me some good.

Yours affectionately,

P.S.--Heaven forgive me, here is another question: How far am I right in
supposing that with plants, the most important characters for main
divisions are Embryological? The seed itself cannot be considered as such,
I suppose, nor the albumens, etc. But I suppose the Cotyledons and their
position, and the position of the plumule and the radicle, and the position
and form of the whole embryo in the seed are embryological, and how far are
these very important? I wish to instance plants as a case of high
importance of embryological characters in classification. In the Animal
Kingdom there is, of course, no doubt of this.

Down, March 5th [1859].

My dear Hooker,

Many thanks about the seed...it is curious. Petrels at St. Kilda
apparently being fed by seeds raised in the West Indies. It should be
noted whether it is a nut ever imported into England. I am VERY glad you
will read my Geographical MS.; it is now copying, and it will (I presume)
take ten days or so in being finished; it shall be sent as soon as done...

I shall be very glad to see your embryological ideas on plants; by the
sentence which I sent you, you will see that I only want one sentence; if
facts are at all, as I suppose, and I shall see this from your note, for
sending which very many thanks.

I have been so poorly, the last three days, that I sometimes doubt whether
I shall ever get my little volume done, though so nearly completed...

Down, March 15th [1859].

My dear Hooker,

I am PLEASED at what you say of my chapter. You have not attacked it
nearly so much as I feared you would. You do not seem to have detected
MANY errors. It was nearly all written from memory, and hence I was
particularly fearful; it would have been better if the whole had first been
carefully written out, and abstracted afterwards. I look at it as morally
certain that it must include much error in some of its general views. I
will just run over a few points in your note, but do not trouble yourself
to reply without you have something important to say...

...I should like to know whether the case of Endemic bats in islands struck
you; it has me especially; perhaps too strongly.

With hearty thanks, ever yours,

P.S. You cannot tell what a relief it has been to me your looking over
this chapter, as I felt very shaky on it.

I shall to-morrow finish my last chapter (except a recapitulation) on
Affinities, Homologies, Embryology, etc., and the facts seem to me to come
out VERY strong for mutability of species.

I have been much interested in working out the chapter.

I shall now, thank God, begin looking over the old first chapters for

But my health is now so very poor, that even this will take me long.

Down [March] 24th [1859].

My dear Fox,

It was very good of you to write to me in the midst of all your troubles,
though you seem to have got over some of them, in the recovery of your
wife's and your own health. I had not heard lately of your mother's
health, and am sorry to hear so poor an account. But as she does not
suffer much, that is the great thing; for mere life I do not think is much
valued by the old. What a time you must have had of it, when you had to go
backwards and forwards.

We are all pretty well, and our eldest daughter is improving. I can see
daylight through my work, and am now finally correcting my chapters for the
press; and I hope in a month or six weeks to have proof-sheets. I am weary
of my work. It is a very odd thing that I have no sensation that I
overwork my brain; but facts compel me to conclude that my brain was never
formed for much thinking. We are resolved to go for two or three months,
when I have finished, to Ilkley, or some such place, to see if I can anyhow
give my health a good start, for it certainly has been wretched of late,
and has incapacitated me for everything. You do me injustice when you
think that I work for fame; I value it to a certain extent; but, if I know
myself, I work from a sort of instinct to try to make out truth. How glad
I should be if you could sometime come to Down; especially when I get a
little better, as I still hope to be. We have set up a billiard table, and
I find it does me a deal of good, and drives the horrid species out of my
head. Farewell, my dear old friend.

Yours affectionately,

Down, March 28th [1859].

My dear Lyell,

If I keep decently well, I hope to be able to go to press with my volume
early in May. This being so, I want much to beg a little advice from you.
>From an expression in Lady Lyell's note, I fancy that you have spoken to
Murray. Is it so? And is he willing to publish my Abstract? If you will
tell me whether anything, and what has passed, I will then write to him.
Does he know at all of the subject of the book? Secondly, can you advise
me, whether I had better state what terms of publication I should prefer,
or first ask him to propose terms? And what do you think would be fair
terms for an edition? Share profits, or what?

Lastly, will you be so very kind as to look at the enclosed title and give
me your opinion and any criticisms; you must remember that, if I have
health and it appears worth doing, I have a much larger and full book on
the same subject nearly ready.

My Abstract will be about five hundred pages of the size of your first
edition of the 'Elements of Geology.'

Pray forgive me troubling you with the above queries; and you shall have no
more trouble on the subject. I hope the world goes well with you, and that
you are getting on with your various works.

I am working very hard for me, and long to finish and be free and try to
recover some health.

My dear Lyell, ever yours,

Very sincere thanks to you for standing my proxy for the Wollaston Medal.

P.S. Would you advise me to tell Murray that my book is not more UN-
orthodox than the subject makes inevitable. That I do not discuss the
origin of man. That I do not bring in any discussion about Genesis, etc.,
etc., and only give facts, and such conclusions from them as seem to me

Or had I better say NOTHING to Murray, and assume that he cannot object to
this much unorthodoxy, which in fact is not more than any Geological
Treatise which runs slap counter to Genesis.










Fellow of the Royal Geological and Linnean Societies



etc., etc., etc., etc.


Down, March 30th [1859].

My dear Lyell,

You have been uncommonly kind in all you have done. You not only have
saved me much trouble and some anxiety, but have done all incomparably
better than I could have done it. I am much pleased at all you say about
Murray. I will write either to-day or to-morrow to him, and will send
shortly a large bundle of MS., but unfortunately I cannot for a week, as
the first three chapters are in the copyists' hands.

I am sorry about Murray objecting to the term Abstract, as I look at it as
the only possible apology for NOT giving references and facts in full, but
I will defer to him and you. I am also sorry about the term "natural
selection." I hope to retain it with explanation somewhat as thus--

"Through natural selection, or the preservation of favoured Races."

Why I like the term is that it is constantly used in all works on breeding,
and I am surprised that it is not familiar to Murray; but I have so long
studied such works that I have ceased to be a competent judge.

I again most truly and cordially thank you for your really valuable

Yours most truly,

Down, April 2nd [1859].

...I wrote to him [Mr. Murray] and gave him the headings of the chapters,
and told him he could not have the MS. for ten days or so; and this morning
I received a letter, offering me handsome terms, and agreeing to publish
without seeing the MS.! So he is eager enough; I think I should have been
cautious, anyhow, but, owing to your letter, I told him most EXPLICITLY
that I accept his offer solely on condition that, after he has seen part or
all the MS., he has full power of retracting. You will think me
presumptuous, but I think my book will be popular to a certain extent
(enough to ensure [against] heavy loss) amongst scientific and semi-
scientific men; why I think so is, because I have found in conversation so
great and surprising an interest amongst such men, and some o-scientific
[non-scientific] men on this subject, and all my chapters are not NEARLY so
dry and dull as that which you have read on geographical distribution.
Anyhow, Murray ought to be the best judge, and if he chooses to publish it,
I think I may wash my hands of all responsibility. I am sure my friends,
i.e., Lyell and you, have been EXTRAORDINARILY kind in troubling yourselves
on the matter.

I shall be delighted to see you the day before Good Friday; there would be
one advantage for you in any other day--as I believe both my boys come home
on that day--and it would be almost impossible that I could send the
carriage for you. There will, I believe, be some relations in the house--
but I hope you will not care for that, as we shall easily get as much
talking as my IMBECILE STATE allows. I shall deeply enjoy seeing you.

...I am tired, so no more.

My dear Hooker, your affectionate,

P.S.--Please to send, well TIED UP with strong string, my Geographical MS.,
towards the latter half of next week--i.e., 7th or 8th--that I may send it
with more to Murray; and God help him if he tries to read it.

...I cannot help a little doubting whether Lyell would take much pains to
induce Murray to publish my book; this was not done at my request, and it
rather grates against my pride.

I know that Lyell has been INFINITELY kind about my affair, but your dashed
(i.e., underlined] "INDUCE" gives the idea that Lyell had unfairly urged

April 4th [1859].

...You ask to see my sheets as printed off; I assure you that it will be
the HIGHEST satisfaction to me to do so: I look at the request as a high
compliment. I shall not, you may depend, forget a request which I look at
as a favour. But (and it is a heavy "but" to me) it will be long before I
go to press; I can truly say I am NEVER idle; indeed, I work too hard for
my much weakened health; yet I can do only three hours of work daily, and I
cannot at all see when I shall have finished: I have done eleven long
chapters, but I have got some other very difficult ones: as palaeontology,
classifications, and embryology, etc., and I have to correct and add
largely to all those done. I find, alas! each chapter takes me on an
average three months, so slow I am. There is no end to the necessary
digressions. I have just finished a chapter on Instinct, and here I found
grappling with such a subject as bees' cells, and comparing all my notes
made during twenty years, took up a despairing length of time.

But I am running on about myself in a most egotistical style. Yet I must
just say how useful I have again and again found your letters, which I have
lately been looking over and quoting! but you need not fear that I shall
quote anything you would dislike, for I try to be very cautious on this
head. I most heartily hope you may succeed in getting your "incubus" of
old work off your hands, and be in some degree a free man...

Again let me say that I do indeed feel grateful to you...

Down, April 5th [1859].

My dear Sir,

I send by this post, the Title (with some remarks on a separate page), and
the first three chapters. If you have patience to read all Chapter I., I
honestly think you will have a fair notion of the interest of the whole
book. It may be conceit, but I believe the subject will interest the
public, and I am sure that the views are original. If you think otherwise,
I must repeat my request that you will freely reject my work; and though I
shall be a little disappointed, I shall be in no way injured.

If you choose to read Chapters II. and III., you will have a dull and
rather abstruse chapter, and a plain and interesting one, in my opinion.

As soon as you have done with the MS., please to send it by CAREFUL
MESSENGER, AND PLAINLY DIRECTED, to Miss G. Tollett, 14, Queen Anne Street,
Cavendish Square.

This lady, being an excellent judge of style, is going to look out for
errors for me.

You must take your own time, but the sooner you finish, the sooner she
will, and the sooner I shall get to press, which I so earnestly wish.

I presume you will wish to see Chapter IV., the key-stone of my arch, and
Chapters X. and XI., but please to inform me on this head.

My dear Sir, yours sincerely,

Down, April 11th [1859].

...I write one line to say that I heard from Murray yesterday, and he says
he has read the first three chapters of one MS.(and this includes a very
dull one), and he abides by his offer. Hence he does not want more MS.,
and you can send my Geographical chapter when it pleases you...

[Part of the MS. seems to have been lost on its way back to my father; he
wrote (April 14) to Sir J.D. Hooker:]

"I have the old MS., otherwise, the loss would have killed me! The worst
is now that it will cause delay in getting to press, and FAR WORST of all,
lose all advantage of your having looked over my chapter, except the third
part returned. I am very sorry Mrs. Hooker took the trouble of copying the
two pages."

[April or May, 1859].

...Please do not say to any one that I thought my book on Species would be
fairly popular, and have a fairly remunerative sale (which was the height
of my ambition), for if it prove a dead failure, it would make me the more

I enclose a criticism, a taste of the future--


"This speculation of Messrs. Darwin and Wallace would not be worthy of
notice were it not for the weight of authority of the names (i.e. Lyell's
and yours), under whose auspices it has been brought forward. If it means
what it says, it is a truism; if it means anything more, it is contrary to


Down, May 11th [1859].

My dear Hooker,

Thank you for telling me about obscurity of style. But on my life no
nigger with lash over him could have worked harder at clearness than I have
done. But the very difficulty to me, of itself leads to the probability
that I fail. Yet one lady who has read all my MS. has found only two or
three obscure sentences, but Mrs. Hooker having so found it, makes me
tremble. I will do my best in proofs. You are a good man to take the
trouble to write about it.

With respect to our mutual muddle ("When I go over the chapter I will see
what I can do, but I hardly know how I am obscure, and I think we are
somehow in a mutual muddle with respect to each other, from starting from
some fundamentally different notions."--Letter of May 6, 1859.), I never
for a moment thought we could not make our ideas clear to each other by
talk, or if either of us had time to write in extenso.

I imagine from some expressions (but if you ask me what, I could not
answer) that you look at variability as some necessary contingency with
organisms, and further that there is some necessary tendency in the
variability to go on diverging in character or degree. IF YOU DO, I do not
agree. "Reversion" again (a form of inheritance), I look at as in no way
directly connected with Variation, though of course inheritance is of
fundamental importance to us, for if a variation be not inherited, it is of
no significance to us. It was on such points as these I FANCIED that we
perhaps started differently.

I fear that my book will not deserve at all the pleasant things you say
about it; and Good Lord, how I do long to have done with it!

Since the above was written, I have received and have been MUCH INTERESTED
by A. Gray. I am delighted at his note about my and Wallace's paper. He
will go round, for it is futile to give up very many species, and stop at
an arbitrary line at others. It is what my grandfather called
Unitarianism, "a feather bed to catch a falling Christian."...

Down, May 18th [1859].

My dear Hooker,

My health has quite failed. I am off to-morrow for a week of Hydropathy.
I am very very sorry to say that I cannot look over any proofs (Of Sir J.
Hooker's Introduction to the 'Flora of Australia.') in the week, as my
object is to drive the subject out of my head. I shall return to-morrow
week. If it be worth while, which probably it is not, you could keep back
any proofs till my return home.

In haste, ever yours,

[Ten days later he wrote to Sir J.D. Hooker:

"...I write one word to say that I shall return on Saturday, and if you
have any proof-sheets to send, I shall be glad to do my best in any

I had...great prostration of mind and body, but entire rest, and the
douche, and 'Adam Bede,' have together done me a world of good."]

Down, June 14th [1859].

My dear Sir,

The diagram will do very well, and I will send it shortly to Mr. West to
have a few trifling corrections made.

I get on very slowly with proofs. I remember writing to you that I thought
there would not be much correction. I honestly wrote what I thought, but
was most grievously mistaken. I find the style incredibly bad, and most
difficult to make clear and smooth. I am extremely sorry to say, on
account of expense, and loss of time for me, that the corrections are very
heavy, as heavy as possible. But from casual glances, I still hope that
later chapters are not so badly written. How I could have written so badly
is quite inconceivable, but I suppose it was owing to my whole attention
being fixed on the general line of argument, and not on details. All I can
say is, that I am very sorry.

Yours very sincerely,

P.S. I have been looking at the corrections, and considering them. It
seems to me that I shall put you to a quite unfair expense. If you please
I should like to enter into some such arrangement as the following: when
work completed, you to allow in the account a fairly moderately heavy
charge for corrections, and all excess over that to be deducted from my
profits, or paid by me individually.

Down, June 21st [1859].

I am working very hard, but get on slowly, for I find that my corrections
are terrifically heavy, and the work most difficult to me. I have
corrected 130 pages, and the volume will be about 500. I have tried my
best to make it clear and striking, but very much fear that I have failed--
so many discussions are and must be very perplexing. I have done my best.
If you had all my materials, I am sure you would have made a splendid book.
I long to finish, for I am nearly worn out.

My dear Lyell, ever yours most truly,

Down, 22nd [June, 1859].

My dear Hooker,

I did not answer your pleasant note, with a good deal of news to me, of May
30th, as I have been expecting proofs from you. But now, having nothing
particular to do, I will fly a note, though I have nothing particular to
say or ask. Indeed, how can a man have anything to say, who spends every
day in correcting accursed proofs; and such proofs! I have fairly to
blacken them, and fasten slips of paper on, so miserable have I found the
style. You say that you dreamt that my book was ENTERTAINING; that dream
is pretty well over with me, and I begin to fear that the public will find
it intolerably dry and perplexing. But I will never give up that a better
man could have made a splendid book out of the materials. I was glad to
hear about Prestwich's paper. (Mr. Prestwich wrote on the occurrence of
flint instruments associated with the remains of extinct animals in
France.--(Proc. R. Soc., 1859.)) My doubt has been (and I see Wright has
inserted the same in the 'Athenaeum') whether the pieces of flint are
really tools; their numbers make me doubt, and when I formerly looked at
Boucher de Perthe's drawings, I came to the conclusion that they were
angular fragments broken by ice action.

Did crossing the Acacia do any good? I am so hard worked, that I can make
no experiments. I have got only to 150 pages in first proof.

Adios, my dear Hooker, ever yours,

Down, July 25th [1859].

My dear Sir,

I write to say that five sheets are returned to the printers ready to
strike off, and two more sheets require only a revise; so that I presume
you will soon have to decide what number of copies to print off.

I am quite incapable of forming an opinion. I think I have got the style
FAIRLY good and clear, with infinite trouble. But whether the book will be
successful to a degree to satisfy you, I really cannot conjecture. I
heartily hope it may.

My dear Sir, yours very sincerely,

Down, August 9th, 1859.

My dear Mr. Wallace,

I received your letter and memoir (This seems to refer to Mr. Wallace's
paper, "On the Zoological Geography of the Malay Archipelago," 'Linn. Soc.
Journ,' 1860.) on the 7th, and will forward it to-morrow to the Linnean
Society. But you will be aware that there is no meeting till the beginning
of November. Your paper seems to me ADMIRABLE in matter, style, and
reasoning; and I thank you for allowing me to read it. Had I read it some
months ago, I should have profited by it for my forthcoming volume. But my
two chapters on this subject are in type, and, though not yet corrected, I
am so wearied out and weak in health, that I am fully resolved not to add
one word, and merely improve the style. So you will see that my views are
nearly the same with yours, and you may rely on it that not one word shall
be altered owing to my having read your ideas. Are you aware that Mr. W.
Earl (Probably Mr. W. Earle's paper, Geographical Soc. Journal, 1845.)
published several years ago the view of distribution of animals in the
Malay Archipelago, in relation to the depth of the sea between the islands?
I was much struck with this, and have been in the habit of noting all facts
in distribution in that archipelago, and elsewhere, in this relation. I
have been led to conclude that there has been a good deal of naturalisation
in the different Malay islands, and which I have thought, to a certain
extent, would account for anomalies. Timor has been my greatest puzzle.
What do you say to the peculiar Felis there? I wish that you had visited
Timor; it has been asserted that a fossil mastodon's or elephant's tooth (I
forget which) has been found there, which would be a grand fact. I was
aware that Celebes was very peculiar; but the relation to Africa is quite
new to me, and marvellous, and almost passes belief. It is as anomalous as
the relation of PLANTS in S.W. Australia to the Cape of Good Hope. I
differ WHOLLY from you on the colonisation of oceanic islands, but you will
have EVERY ONE else on your side. I quite agree with respect to all
islands not situated far in the ocean. I quite agree on the little
occasional intermigration between lands [islands?] when once pretty well
stocked with inhabitants, but think this does not apply to rising and ill-
stocked islands. Are you aware that ANNUALLY birds are blown to Madeira,
the Azores (and to Bermuda from America). I wish I had given a fuller
abstract of my reasons for not believing in Forbes' great continental
extensions; but it is too late, for I will alter nothing--I am worn out,
and must have rest. Owen, I do not doubt, will bitterly oppose us...Hooker
is publishing a grand introduction to the Flora of Australia, and goes the
whole length. I have seen proofs of about half. With every good wish.

Believe me, yours very sincerely,

Down, September 1st [1859].

...I am not surprised at your finding your Introduction very difficult.
But do not grudge the labour, and do not say you "have burnt your fingers,"
and are "deep in the mud"; for I feel sure that the result will be well
worth the labour. Unless I am a fool, I must be a judge to some extent of
the value of such general essays, and I am fully convinced that yours are
the must valuable ever published.

I have corrected all but the last two chapters of my book, and hope to have
done revises and all in about three weeks, and then I (or we all) shall
start for some months' hydropathy; my health has been very bad, and I am
becoming as weak as a child, and incapable of doing anything whatever,
except my three hours daily work at proof-sheets. God knows whether I
shall ever be good at anything again, perhaps a long rest and hydropathy
may do something.

I have not had A. Gray's Essay, and should not feel up to criticise it,
even if I had the impertinence and courage. You will believe me that I
speak strictly the truth when I say that your Australian Essay is EXTREMELY
interesting to me, rather too much so. I enjoy reading it over, and if you
think my criticisms are worth anything to you, I beg you to send the sheets
(if you can give me time for good days); but unless I can render you any
little, however little assistance, I would rather read the essay when
published. Pray understand that I should be TRULY vexed not to read them,
if you wish it for your own sake.

I had a terribly long fit of sickness yesterday, which makes the world
rather extra gloomy to-day, and I have an insanely strong wish to finish my
accursed book, such corrections every page has required as I never saw
before. It is so weariful, killing the whole afternoon, after 12 o'clock
doing nothing whatever. But I will grumble no more. So farewell, we shall
meet in the winter I trust.

Farewell, my dear Hooker, your affectionate friend,

Down, September 2nd [1859].

...I am very glad you wish to see my clean sheets: I should have offered
them, but did not know whether it would bore you; I wrote by this morning's
post to Murray to send them. Unfortunately I have not got to the part
which will interest you, I think most, and which tells most in favour of
the view, viz., Geological Succession, Geographical Distribution, and
especially Morphology, Embryology and Rudimentary Organs. I will see that
the remaining sheets, when printed off, are sent to you. But would you
like for me to send the last and perfect revises of the sheets as I correct
them? if so, send me your address in a blank envelope. I hope that you
will read all, whether dull (especially latter part of Chapter II.) or not,
for I am convinced there is not a sentence which has not a bearing on the
whole argument. You will find Chapter IV. perplexing and unintelligible,
without the aid of the enclosed queer diagram (The diagram illustrates
descent with divergence.), of which I send an old and useless proof. I
have, as Murray says, corrected so heavily, as almost to have re-written
it; but yet I fear it is poorly written. Parts are intricate; and I do not
think that even you could make them quite clear. Do not, I beg, be in a
hurry in committing yourself (like so many naturalists) to go a certain
length and no further; for I am deeply convinced that it is absolutely
necessary to go the whole vast length, or stick to the creation of each
separate species; I argue this point briefly in the last chapter. Remember
that your verdict will probably have more influence than my book in
deciding whether such views as I hold will be admitted or rejected at
present; in the future I cannot doubt about their admittance, and our
posterity will marvel as much about the current belief as we do about
fossils shells having been thought to have been created as we now see them.
But forgive me for running on about my hobby-horse...

Down, [September] 11th [1859].

My dear Hooker,

I corrected the last proof yesterday, and I have now my revises, index,
etc., which will take me near to the end of the month. So that the neck of
my work, thank God, is broken.

I write now to say that I am uneasy in my conscience about hesitating to
look over your proofs, but I was feeling miserably unwell and shattered
when I wrote. I do not suppose I could be of hardly any use, but if I
could, pray send me any proofs. I should be (and fear I was) the most
ungrateful man to hesitate to do anything for you after some fifteen or
more years' help from you.

As soon as ever I have fairly finished I shall be off to Ilkley, or some
other Hydropathic establishment. But I shall be some time yet, as my
proofs have been so utterly obscured with corrections, that I have to
correct heavily on revises.

Murray proposes to publish the first week in November. Oh, good heavens,
the relief to my head and body to banish the whole subject from my mind!

I hope to God, you do not think me a brute about your proof-sheets.

Farewell, yours affectionately,

Down, September 20th [1859].

My dear Lyell,

You once gave me intense pleasure, or rather delight, by the way you were
interested, in a manner I never expected, in my Coral Reef notions, and now
you have again given me similar pleasure by the manner you have noticed my
species work. (Sir Charles was President of the Geological section at the
meeting of the British Association at Aberdeen in 1859. The following
passage occurs in the address: "On this difficult and mysterious subject a
work will very shortly appear by Mr. Charles Darwin, the result of twenty
years of observations and experiments in Zoology, Botany, and Geology, by
which he had been led to the conclusion that those powers of nature which
give rise to races and permanent varieties in animals and plants, are the
same as those which in much longer periods produce species, and in a still
longer series of ages give rise to differences of generic rank. He appears
to me to have succeeded by his investigations and reasonings in throwing a
flood of light on many classes of phenomena connected with the affinities,
geographical distribution, and geological succession of organic beings, for
which no other hypothesis has been able, or has even attempted to
account.") Nothing could be more satisfactory to me, and I thank you for
myself, and even more for the subject's sake, as I know well that the
sentence will make many fairly consider the subject, instead of ridiculing
it. Although your previously felt doubts on the immutability of species,
may have more influence in converting you (if you be converted) than my
book; yet as I regard your verdict as far more important in my own eyes,
and I believe in the eyes of the world than of any other dozen men, I am
naturally very anxious about it. Therefore let me beg you to keep your
mind open till you receive (in perhaps a fortnight's time) my latter
chapters, which are the most important of all on the favourable side. The
last chapter, which sums up and balances in a mass all the arguments contra
and pro, will, I think, be useful to you. I cannot too strongly express my
conviction of the general truth of my doctrines, and God knows I have never
shirked a difficulty. I am foolishly anxious for your verdict, not that I
shall be disappointed if you are not converted; for I remember the long
years it took me to come round; but I shall be most deeply delighted if you
do come round, especially if I have a fair share in the conversion, I shall
then feel that my career is run, and care little whether I ever am good for
anything again in this life.

Thank you much for allowing me to put in the sentence about your grave
doubt. (As to the immutability of species, 'Origin,' Edition i., page
310.) So much and too much about myself.

I have read with extreme interest in the Aberdeen paper about the flint
tools; you have made the whole case far clearer to me; I suppose that you
did not think the evidence sufficient about the Glacial period.

With cordial thanks for your splendid notice of my book.

Believe me, my dear Lyell, your affectionate disciple,

Down, September 23rd [1859].

My dear Fox,

I was very glad to get your letter a few days ago. I was wishing to hear
about you, but have been in such an absorbed, slavish, overworked state,
that I had not heart without compulsion to write to any one or do anything
beyond my daily work. Though your account of yourself is better, I cannot
think it at all satisfactory, and I wish you would soon go to Malvern
again. My father used to believe largely in an old saying that, if a man
grew thinner between fifty and sixty years of age, his chance of long life
was poor, and that on the contrary it was a very good sign if he grew
fatter; so that your stoutness, I look at as a very good omen. My health
has been as bad as it well could be all this summer; and I have kept on my
legs, only by going at short intervals to Moor Park; but I have been better
lately, and, thank Heaven, I have at last as good as done my book, having
only the index and two or three revises to do. It will be published in the
first week in November, and a copy shall be sent you. Remember it is only
an Abstract (but has cost me above thirteen months to write!!), and facts
and authorities are far from given in full. I shall be curious to hear
what you think of it, but I am not so silly as to expect to convert you.
Lyell has read about half of the volume in clean sheets, and gives me very
great kudos. He is wavering so much about the immutability of species,
that I expect he will come round. Hooker has come round, and will publish
his belief soon. So much for my abominable volume, which has cost me so
much labour that I almost hate it. On October 3rd I start for Ilkley, but
shall take three days for the journey! It is so late that we shall not
take a house; but I go there alone for three or four weeks, then return
home for a week and go to Moor Park for three or four weeks, and then I
shall get a moderate spell of hydropathy: and I intend, if I can keep to
my resolution, of being idle this winter. But I fear ennui will be as bad
as a bad stomach...

Down, September 25th [1859].

My dear Lyell,

I send by this post four corrected sheets. I have altered the sentence
about the Eocene fauna being beaten by recent, thanks to your remark. But
I imagined that it would have been clear that I supposed the climate to be
nearly similar; you do not doubt, I imagine, that the climate of the eocene
and recent periods in DIFFERENT parts of the world could be matched. Not
that I think climate nearly so important as most naturalists seem to think.
In my opinion no error is more mischievous than this.

I was very glad to find that Hooker, who read over, in MS., my Geographical
chapters, quite agreed in the view of the greater importance of organic
relations. I should like you to consider page 77 and reflect on the case
of any organism in the midst of its range.

I shall be curious hereafter to hear what you think of distribution during
the glacial and preceding warmer periods. I am so glad you do not think
the Chapter on the Imperfection of the Geological Record exaggerated; I was
more fearful about this chapter than about any part.

Embryology in Chapter VIII. is one of my strongest points I think. But I
must not bore you by running on. My mind is so wearisomely full of the

I do thank you for your eulogy at Aberdeen. I have been so wearied and
exhausted of late that I have for months doubted whether I have not been
throwing away time and labour for nothing. But now I care not what the
universal world says; I have always found you right, and certainly on this
occasion I am not going to doubt for the first time. Whether you go far,
or but a very short way with me and others who believe as I do, I am
contented, for my work cannot be in vain. You would laugh if you knew how
often I have read your paragraph, and it has acted like a little dram...


Down, September 30th [1859].

My dear Lyell,

I sent off this morning the last sheets, but without index, which is not in
type. I look at you as my Lord High Chancellor in Natural Science, and
therefore I request you, after you have finished, just to RERUN over the
heads in the Recapitulation-part of last chapter. I shall be deeply
anxious to hear what you decide (if you are able to decide) on the balance
of the pros and contras given in my volume, and of such other pros and
contras as may occur to you. I hope that you will think that I have given
the difficulties fairly. I feel an entire conviction that if you are now
staggered to any moderate extent, that you will come more and more round,
the longer you keep the subject at all before your mind. I remember well
how many long years it was before I could look into the faces of some of
the difficulties and not feel quite abashed. I fairly struck my colours
before the case of neuter insects.

I suppose that I am a very slow thinker, for you would be surprised at the
number of years it took me to see clearly what some of the problems were
which had to be solved, such as the necessity of the principle of
divergence of character, the extinction of intermediate varieties, on a
continuous area, with graduated conditions; the double problem of sterile
first crosses and sterile hybrids, etc., etc.

Looking back, I think it was more difficult to see what the problems were
than to solve them, so far as I have succeeded in doing, and this seems to
me rather curious. Well, good or bad, my work, thank God, is over; and
hard work, I can assure you, I have had, and much work which has never
borne fruit. You can see, by the way I am scribbling, that I have an idle
and rainy afternoon. I was not able to start for Ilkley yesterday as I was
too unwell; but I hope to get there on Tuesday or Wednesday. Do, I beg
you, when you have finished my book and thought a little over it, let me
hear from you. Never mind and pitch into me, if you think it requisite;
some future day, in London possibly, you may give me a few criticisms in
detail, that is, if you have scribbled any remarks on the margin, for the
chance of a second edition.

Murray has printed 1250 copies, which seems to me rather too large an
edition, but I hope he will not lose.

I make as much fuss about my book as if it were my first. Forgive me, and
believe me, my dear Lyell,

Yours most sincerely,

Ilkley, Yorkshire, October 15th [1859].

My dear Hooker,

Be a good man and screw out time enough to write me a note and tell me a
little about yourself, your doings, and belongings.

Is your Introduction fairly finished? I know you will abuse it, and I know
well how much I shall like it. I have been here nearly a fortnight, and it
has done me very much good, though I sprained my ankle last Sunday, which
has quite stopped walking. All my family come here on Monday to stop three
or four weeks, and then I shall go back to the great establishment, and
stay a fortnight; so that if I can keep my spirits, I shall stay eight
weeks here, and thus give hydropathy a fair chance. Before starting here I
was in an awful state of stomach, strength, temper, and spirits. My book
has been completely finished some little time; as soon as copies are ready,
of course one will be sent you. I hope you will mark your copy with
scores, so that I may profit by any criticisms. I should like to hear your
general impression. From Lyell's letters, he thinks favourably of it, but
seems staggered by the lengths to which I go. But if you go any
considerable length in the admission of modification, I can see no possible
means of drawing the line, and saying here you must stop. Lyell is going
to reread my book, and I yet entertain hopes that he will be converted, or
perverted, as he calls it. Lyell has been EXTREMELY kind in writing me
three volume-like letters; but he says nothing about dispersal during the
glacial period. I should like to know what he thinks on this head. I have
one question to ask: Would it be any good to send a copy of my book to
Decaisne? and do you know any philosophical botanists on the Continent, who
read English and care for such subjects? if so, give their addresses. How
about Andersson in Sweden? You cannot think how refreshing it is to idle
away the whole day, and hardly ever think in the least about my confounded
book which half-killed me. I much wish I could hear of your taking a real
rest. I know how very strong you are, mentally, but I never will believe
you can go on working as you have worked of late with impunity. You will
some day stretch the string too tight. Farewell, my good, and kind, and
dear friend,

Yours affectionately,

Ilkley, Otley, Yorkshire, October 15th [1859].

My dear Huxley,

I am here hydropathising and coming to life again, after having finished my
accursed book, which would have been easy work to any one else, but half-
killed me. I have thought you would give me one bit of information, and I
know not to whom else to apply; viz., the addresses of Barrande, Von
Siebold, Keyserling (I dare say Sir Roderick would know the latter).

Can you tell me of any good and SPECULATIVE foreigners to whom it would be
worth while to send copies of my book, on the 'Origin of Species'? I doubt
whether it is worth sending to Siebold. I should like to send a few copies
about, but how many I can afford I know not yet till I hear what price
Murray affixes.

I need not say that I will send, of course, one to you, in the first week
of November. I hope to send copies abroad immediately. I shall be
INTENSELY curious to hear what effect the book produces on you. I know
that there will be much in it which you will object to, and I do not doubt
many errors. I am very far from expecting to convert you to many of my
heresies; but if, on the whole, you and two or three others think I am on
the right road, I shall not care what the mob of naturalists think. The
penultimate chapter (Chapter XIII. is on Classification, Morphology,
Embryology, and Rudimentary Organs.), though I believe it includes the
truth, will, I much fear, make you savage. Do not act and say, like
Macleay versus Fleming, "I write with aqua fortis to bite into brass."

Ever yours,

Ilkley, Yorkshire,
October 20th [1859].

My dear Lyell,

I have been reading over all your letters consecutively, and I do not feel
that I have thanked you half enough for the extreme pleasure which they
have given me, and for their utility. I see in them evidence of
fluctuation in the degree of credence you give to the theory; nor am I at
all surprised at this, for many and many fluctuations I have undergone.

There is one point in your letter which I did not notice, about the animals
(and many plants) naturalised in Australia, which you think could not
endure without man's aid. I cannot see how man does aid the feral cattle.
But, letting that pass, you seem to think, that because they suffer
prodigious destruction during droughts, that they would all be destroyed.
In the "gran secos" of La Plata, the indigenous animals, such as the
American deer, die by thousands, and suffer apparently as much as the
cattle. In parts of India, after a drought, it takes ten or more years
before the indigenous mammals get up to their full number again. Your
argument would, I think, apply to the aborigines as well as to the feral.

An animal or plant which becomes feral in one small territory might be
destroyed by climate, but I can hardly believe so, when once feral over
several large territories. Again, I feel inclined to swear at climate: do
not think me impudent for attacking you about climate. You say you doubt
whether man could have existed under the Eocene climate, but man can now
withstand the climate of Esquimaux-land and West Equatorial Africa; and
surely you do not think the Eocene climate differed from the present
throughout all Europe, as much as the Arctic regions differ from Equatorial

With respect to organisms being created on the American type in America, it
might, I think, be said that they were so created to prevent them being too
well created, so as to beat the aborigines; but this seems to me, somehow,
a monstrous doctrine.

I have reflected a good deal on what you say on the necessity of continued
intervention of creative power. I cannot see this necessity; and its
admission, I think, would make the theory of Natural Selection valueless.
Grant a simple Archetypal creature, like the Mud-fish or Lepidosiren, with
the five senses and some vestige of mind, and I believe natural selection
will account for the production of every vertebrate animal.

Farewell; forgive me for indulging in this prose, and believe me, with
cordial thanks,

Your ever attached disciple,

P.S.--When, and if, you reread, I supplicate you to write on the margin the
word "expand," when too condensed, or "not clear." or "?." Such marks
would cost you little trouble, and I could copy them and reflect on them,
and their value would be infinite to me.

My larger book will have to be wholly re-written, and not merely the
present volume expanded; so that I want to waste as little time over this
volume as possible, if another edition be called for; but I fear the
subject will be too perplexing, as I have treated it, for general public.

Ilkley, Yorkshire,
Sunday [October 23rd, 1859].

My dear Hooker,

I congratulate you on your 'Introduction' ("Australian Flora".) being in
fact finished. I am sure from what I read of it (and deeply I shall be
interested in reading it straight through), that it must have cost you a
prodigious amount of labour and thought. I shall like very much to see the
sheet, which you wish me to look at. Now I am so completely a gentleman,
that I have sometimes a little difficulty to pass the day; but it is
astonishing how idle a three weeks I have passed. If it is any comfort to
you, pray delude yourself by saying that you intend "sticking to humdrum
science." But I believe it just as much as if a plant were to say that, "I
have been growing all my life, and, by Jove, I will stop growing." You
cannot help yourself; you are not clever enough for that. You could not
even remain idle, as I have done, for three weeks! What you say about
Lyell pleases me exceedingly; I had not at all inferred from his letters
that he had come so much round. I remember thinking, above a year ago,

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest