"But I was very unwilling to give up my belief; I feel sure of this, for I can well remember often and often inventing day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans, and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii or elsewhere, which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in the Gospels. But I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress.
"Although I did not think much about the existence of a personal God until a considerably later period of my life, I will here give the vague conclusions to which I have been driven. The old argument from design in Nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows. But I have discussed this subject at the end of my book on the 'Variations of Domesticated Animals and Plants' (My father asks whether we are to believe that the forms are preordained of the broken fragments of rock tumbled from a precipice which are fitted together by man to build his houses. If not, why should we believe that the variations of domestic animals or plants are preordained for the sake of the breeder? "But if we give up the principle in one case,...no shadow of reason can be assigned for the belief that variations, alike in nature and the result of the same general laws, which have been the groundwork through natural selection of the formation of the most perfectly adapted animals in the world, man included, were intentionally and specially guided."—'The Variation of Animals and Plants,' 1st Edition volume ii. page 431.—F.D.), and the argument there given has never, as far as I can see, been answered.
"But passing over the endless beautiful adaptations which we everywhere meet with, it may be asked how can the generally beneficent arrangement of the world be accounted for? Some writers indeed are so much impressed with the amount of suffering in the world, that they doubt, if we look to all sentient beings, whether there is more of misery or of happiness; whether the world as a whole is a good or bad one. According to my judgment happiness decidedly prevails, though this would be very difficult to prove. If the truth of this conclusion be granted, it harmonises well with the effects which we might expect from natural selection. If all the individuals of any species were habitually to suffer to an extreme degree, they would neglect to propagate their kind; but we have no reason to believe that this has ever, or at least often occurred. Some other considerations, moreover, lead to the belief that all sentient beings have been formed so as to enjoy, as a general rule, happiness.
"Everyone who believes, as I do, that all the corporeal and mental organs (excepting those which are neither advantageous nor disadvantageous to the possessor) of all beings have been developed through natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, together with use or habit, will admit that these organs have been formed so that their possessors may compete successfully with other beings, and thus increase in number. Now an animal may be led to pursue that course of action which is most beneficial to the species by suffering, such as pain, hunger, thirst, and fear; or by pleasure, as in eating and drinking, and in the propagation of the species, etc.; or by both means combined, as in the search for food. But pain or suffering of any kind, if long continued, causes depression and lessens the power of action, yet is well adapted to make a creature guard itself against any great or sudden evil. Pleasurable sensations, on the other hand, may be long continued without any depressing effect; on the contrary, they stimulate the whole system to increased action. Hence it has come to pass that most or all sentient beings have been developed in such a manner, through natural selection, that pleasurable sensations serve as their habitual guides. We see this in the pleasure from exertion, even occasionally from great exertion of the body or mind,—in the pleasure of our daily meals, and especially in the pleasure derived from sociability, and from loving our families. The sum of such pleasures as these, which are habitual or frequently recurrent, give, as I can hardly doubt, to most sentient beings an excess of happiness over misery, although many occasionally suffer much. Such suffering is quite compatible with the belief in Natural Selection, which is not perfect in its action, but tends only to render each species as successful as possible in the battle for life with other species, in wonderfully complex and changing circumstances.
"That there is much suffering in the world no one disputes. Some have attempted to explain this with reference to man by imagining that it serves for his moral improvement. But the number of men in the world is as nothing compared with that of all other sentient beings, and they often suffer greatly without any moral improvement. This very old argument from the existence of suffering against the existence of an intelligent First Cause seems to me a strong one; whereas, as just remarked, the presence of much suffering agrees well with the view that all organic beings have been developed through variation and natural selection.
"At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons.
"Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred to (although I do not think that the religious sentiment was ever strongly developed in me), to the firm conviction of the existence of God, and of the immortality of the soul. In my Journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, "it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion, which fill and elevate the mind." I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body. But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind, and the universal belief by men of the existence of redness makes my present loss of perception of not the least value as evidence. This argument would be a valid one if all men of all races had the same inward conviction of the existence of one God; but we know that this is very far from being the case. Therefore I cannot see that such inward convictions and feelings are of any weight as evidence of what really exists. The state of mind which grand scenes formerly excited in me, and which was intimately connected with a belief in God, did not essentially differ from that which is often called the sense of sublimity; and however difficult it may be to explain the genesis of this sense, it can hardly be advanced as an argument for the existence of God, any more than the powerful though vague and similar feelings excited by music.
"With respect to immortality, nothing shows me [so clearly] how strong and almost instinctive a belief it is, as the consideration of the view now held by most physicists, namely, that the sun with all the planets will in time grow too cold for life, unless indeed some great body dashes into the sun, and thus gives it fresh life. Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.
"Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason, and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the 'Origin of Species;' and it is since that time that it has very gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker. But then arises the doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?
"I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic."
The following letters repeat to some extent what has been given from the Autobiography. The first one refers to 'The Boundaries of Science, a Dialogue,' published in 'Macmillan's Magazine,' for July 1861.]
CHARLES DARWIN TO MISS JULIA WEDGWOOD. July 11 .
Some one has sent us 'Macmillan'; and I must tell you how much I admire your Article; though at the same time I must confess that I could not clearly follow you in some parts, which probably is in main part due to my not being at all accustomed to metaphysical trains of thought. I think that you understand my book (The 'Origin of Species.') perfectly, and that I find a very rare event with my critics. The ideas in the last page have several times vaguely crossed my mind. Owing to several correspondents I have been led lately to think, or rather to try to think over some of the chief points discussed by you. But the result has been with me a maze— something like thinking on the origin of evil, to which you allude. The mind refuses to look at this universe, being what it is, without having been designed; yet, where one would most expect design, viz. in the structure of a sentient being, the more I think on the subject, the less I can see proof of design. Asa Gray and some others look at each variation, or at least at each beneficial variation (which A. Gray would compare with the rain drops (Dr. Gray's rain-drop metaphor occurs in the Essay 'Darwin and his Reviewers' ('Darwiniana,' page 157): "The whole animate life of a country depends absolutely upon the vegetation, the vegetation upon the rain. The moisture is furnished by the ocean, is raised by the sun's heat from the ocean's surface, and is wafted inland by the winds. But what multitudes of rain-drops fall back into the ocean—are as much without a final cause as the incipient varieties which come to nothing! Does it therefore follow that the rains which are bestowed upon the soil with such rule and average regularity were not designed to support vegetable and animal life?") which do not fall on the sea, but on to the land to fertilize it) as having been providentially designed. Yet when I ask him whether he looks at each variation in the rock-pigeon, by which man has made by accumulation a pouter or fantail pigeon, as providentially designed for man's amusement, he does not know what to answer; and if he, or any one, admits [that] these variations are accidental, as far as purpose is concerned (of course not accidental as to their cause or origin); then I can see no reason why he should rank the accumulated variations by which the beautifully adapted woodpecker has been formed, as providentially designed. For it would be easy to imagine the enlarged crop of the pouter, or tail of the fantail, as of some use to birds, in a state of nature, having peculiar habits of life. These are the considerations which perplex me about design; but whether you will care to hear them, I know not.
[On the subject of design, he wrote (July 1860) to Dr. Gray:
"One word more on 'designed laws' and 'undesigned results.' I see a bird which I want for food, take my gun and kill it, I do this DESIGNEDLY. An innocent and good man stands under a tree and is killed by a flash of lightning. Do you believe (and I really should like to hear) that God DESIGNEDLY killed this man? Many or most persons do believe this; I can't and don't. If you believe so, do you believe that when a swallow snaps up a gnat that God designed that that particular swallow should snap up that particular gnat at that particular instant? I believe that the man and the gnat are in the same predicament. If the death of neither man nor gnat are designed, I see no good reason to believe that their FIRST birth or production should be necessarily designed."]
CHARLES DARWIN TO W. GRAHAM. Down, July 3rd, 1881.
I hope that you will not think it intrusive on my part to thank you heartily for the pleasure which I have derived from reading your admirably written 'Creed of Science,' though I have not yet quite finished it, as now that I am old I read very slowly. It is a very long time since any other book has interested me so much. The work must have cost you several years and much hard labour with full leisure for work. You would not probably expect any one fully to agree with you on so many abstruse subjects; and there are some points in your book which I cannot digest. The chief one is that the existence of so-called natural laws implies purpose. I cannot see this. Not to mention that many expect that the several great laws will some day be found to follow inevitably from some one single law, yet taking the laws as we now know them, and look at the moon, where the law of gravitation—and no doubt of the conservation of energy—of the atomic theory, etc. etc., hold good, and I cannot see that there is then necessarily any purpose. Would there be purpose if the lowest organisms alone, destitute of consciousness existed in the moon? But I have had no practice in abstract reasoning, and I may be all astray. Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe is not the result of chance. (The Duke of Argyll ('Good Words,' Ap. 1885, page 244) has recorded a few words on this subject, spoken by my father in the last year of his life. "...in the course of that conversation I said to Mr. Darwin, with reference to some of his own remarkable works on the 'Fertilization of Orchids,' and upon 'The Earthworms,' and various other observations he made of the wonderful contrivances for certain purposes in nature—I said it was impossible to look at these without seeing that they were the effect and the expression of mind. I shall never forget Mr. Darwin's answer. He looked at me very hard and said, 'Well, that often comes over me with overwhelming force; but at other times,' and he shook his head vaguely, adding, 'it seems to go away.'") But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind? Secondly, I think that I could make somewhat of a case against the enormous importance which you attribute to our greatest men; I have been accustomed to think, second, third, and fourth rate men of very high importance, at least in the case of Science. Lastly, I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilised so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world. But I will write no more, and not even mention the many points in your work which have much interested me. I have indeed cause to apologise for troubling you with my impressions, and my sole excuse is the excitement in my mind which your book has aroused.
I beg leave to remain, Dear Sir, Yours faithfully and obliged, CHARLES DARWIN.
[My father spoke little on these subjects, and I can contribute nothing from my own recollection of his conversation which can add to the impression here given of his attitude towards Religion. Some further idea of his views may, however, be gathered from occasional remarks in his letters.] (Dr. Aveling has published an account of a conversation with my father. I think that the readers of this pamphlet ('The Religious Views of Charles Darwin,' Free Thought Publishing Company, 1883) may be misled into seeing more resemblance than really existed between the positions of my father and Dr. Aveling: and I say this in spite of my conviction that Dr. Aveling gives quite fairly his impressions of my father's views. Dr. Aveling tried to show that the terms "Agnostic" and "Atheist" were practically equivalent—that an atheist is one who, without denying the existence of God, is without God, inasmuch as he is unconvinced of the existence of a Deity. My father's replies implied his preference for the unaggressive attitude of an Agnostic. Dr. Aveling seems (page 5) to regard the absence of aggressiveness in my father's views as distinguishing them in an unessential manner from his own. But, in my judgment, it is precisely differences of this kind which distinguish him so completely from the class of thinkers to which Dr. Aveling belongs.)
LIFE AT DOWN.
"My life goes on like clockwork, and I am fixed on the spot where I shall end it."
Letter to Captain Fitz-Roy, October, 1846.
[With the view of giving in the following chapters a connected account of the growth of the 'Origin of Species,' I have taken the more important letters bearing on that subject out of their proper chronological position here, and placed them with the rest of the correspondence bearing on the same subject; so that in the present group of letters we only get occasional hints of the growth of my father's views, and we may suppose ourselves to be looking at his life, as it might have been looked at by those who had no knowledge of the quiet development of his theory of evolution during this period.
On September 14, 1842, my father left London with his family and settled at Down. (I must not omit to mention a member of the household who accompanied him. This was his butler, Joseph Parslow, who remained in the family, a valued friend and servant, for forty years, and became as Sir Joseph Hooker once remarked to me, "an integral part of the family, and felt to be such by all visitors at the house.") In the Autobiographical chapter, his motives for taking this step in the country are briefly given. He speaks of the attendance at scientific societies, and ordinary social duties, as suiting his health so "badly that we resolved to live in the country, which we both preferred and have never repented of." His intention of keeping up with scientific life in London is expressed in a letter to Fox (December, 1842):—
"I hope by going up to town for a night every fortnight or three weeks, to keep up my communication with scientific men and my own zeal, and so not to turn into a complete Kentish hog."
Visits to London of this kind were kept up for some years at the cost of much exertion on his part. I have often heard him speak of the wearisome drives of ten miles to or from Croydon or Sydenham—the nearest stations— with an old gardener acting as coachman, who drove with great caution and slowness up and down the many hills. In later years, all regular scientific intercourse with London became, as before mentioned, an impossibility.
The choice of Down was rather the result of despair than of actual preference; my father and mother were weary of house-hunting, and the attractive points about the place thus seemed to them to counterbalance its somewhat more obvious faults. It had at least one desideratum, namely quietness. Indeed it would have been difficult to find a more retired place so near to London. In 1842 a coach drive of some twenty miles was the only means of access to Down; and even now that railways have crept closer to it, it is singularly out of the world, with nothing to suggest the neighbourhood of London, unless it be the dull haze of smoke that sometimes clouds the sky. The village stands in an angle between two of the larger high-roads of the country, one leading to Tunbridge and the other to Westerham and Edenbridge. It is cut off from the Weald by a line of steep chalk hills on the south, and an abrupt hill, now smoothed down by a cutting and embankment, must formerly have been something of a barrier against encroachments from the side of London. In such a situation, a village, communicating with the main lines of traffic, only by stony tortuous lanes, may well have been enabled to preserve its retired character. Nor is it hard to believe in the smugglers and their strings of pack-horses making their way up from the lawless old villages of the Weald, of which the memory still existed when my father settled in Down. The village stands on solitary upland country, 500 to 600 feet above the sea,— a country with little natural beauty, but possessing a certain charm in the shaws, or straggling strips of wood, capping the chalky banks and looking down upon the quiet ploughed lands of the valleys. The village, of three or four hundred inhabitants, consists of three small streets of cottages meeting in front of the little flint-built church. It is a place where new-comers are seldom seen, and the names occurring far back in the old church registers are still well-known in the village. The smock-frock is not yet quite extinct, though chiefly used as a ceremonial dress by the "bearers" at funerals: but as a boy I remember the purple or green smocks of the men at church.
The house stands a quarter of a mile from the village, and is built, like so many houses of the last century, as near as possible to the road—a narrow lane winding away to the Westerham high-road. In 1842, it was dull and unattractive enough: a square brick building of three storeys, covered with shabby whitewash and hanging tiles. The garden had none of the shrubberies or walls that now give shelter; it was overlooked from the lane, and was open, bleak, and desolate. One of my father's first undertakings was to lower the lane by about two feet, and to build a flint wall along that part of it which bordered the garden. The earth thus excavated was used in making banks and mounds round the lawn: these were planted with evergreens, which now give to the garden its retired and sheltered character.
The house was made to look neater by being covered with stucco, but the chief improvement effected was the building of a large bow extending up through three storeys. This bow became covered with a tangle of creepers, and pleasantly varied the south side of the house. The drawing-room, with its verandah opening into the garden, as well as the study in which my father worked during the later years of his life, were added at subsequent dates.
Eighteen acres of land were sold with the house, of which twelve acres on the south side of the house formed a pleasant field, scattered with fair- sized oaks and ashes. From this field a strip was cut off and converted into a kitchen garden, in which the experimental plot of ground was situated, and where the greenhouses were ultimately put up.
The following letter to Mr. Fox (March 28th, 1843) gives among other things my father's early impressions of Down:—
"I will tell you all the trifling particulars about myself that I can think of. We are now exceedingly busy with the first brick laid down yesterday to an addition to our house; with this, with almost making a new kitchen garden and sundry other projected schemes, my days are very full. I find all this very bad for geology, but I am very slowly progressing with a volume, or rather pamphlet, on the volcanic islands which we visited: I manage only a couple of hours per day and that not very regularly. It is uphill work writing books, which cost money in publishing, and which are not read even by geologists. I forget whether I ever described this place: it is a good, very ugly house with 18 acres, situated on a chalk flat, 560 feet above sea. There are peeps of far distant country and the scenery is moderately pretty: its chief merit is its extreme rurality. I think I was never in a more perfectly quiet country. Three miles south of us the great chalk escarpment quite cuts us off from the low country of Kent, and between us and the escarpment there is not a village or gentleman's house, but only great woods and arable fields (the latter in sadly preponderant numbers) so that we are absolutely at the extreme verge of the world. The whole country is intersected by foot-paths; but the surface over the chalk is clayey and sticky, which is the worst feature in our purchase. The dingles and banks often remind me of Cambridgeshire and walks with you to Cherry Hinton, and other places, though the general aspect of the country is very different. I was looking over my arranged cabinet (the only remnant I have preserved of all my English insects), and was admiring Panagaeus Crux-major: it is curious the vivid manner in which this insect calls up in my mind your appearance, with little Fan trotting after, when I was first introduced to you. Those entomological days were very pleasant ones. I am VERY much stronger corporeally, but am little better in being able to stand mental fatigue, or rather excitement, so that I cannot dine out or receive visitors, except relations with whom I can pass some time after dinner in silence."
I could have wished to give here some idea of the position which, at this period of his life, my father occupied among scientific men and the reading public generally. But contemporary notices are few and of no particular value for my purpose,—which therefore must, in spite of a good deal of pains, remain unfulfilled.
His 'Journal of Researches' was then the only one of his books which had any chance of being commonly known. But the fact that it was published with the 'Voyages' of Captains King and Fitz-Roy probably interfered with its general popularity. Thus Lyell wrote to him in 1838 ('Lyell's Life,' ii. page 43), "I assure you my father is quite enthusiastic about your journal...and he agrees with me that it would have a large sale if published separately. He was disappointed at hearing that it was to be fettered by the other volumes, for, although he should equally buy it, he feared so many of the public would be checked from doing so." In a notice of the three voyages in the 'Edinburgh Review' (July, 1839), there is nothing leading a reader to believe that he would find it more attractive than its fellow-volumes. And, as a fact, it did not become widely known until it was separately published in 1845. It may be noted, however, that the 'Quarterly Review' (December, 1839) called the attention of its readers to the merits of the 'Journal' as a book of travels. The reviewer speaks of the "charm arising from the freshness of heart which is thrown over these virgin pages of a strong intellectual man and an acute and deep observer."
The German translation (1844) of the 'Journal' received a favourable notice in No. 12 of the 'Heidelberger Jahrbucher der Literatur,' 1847—where the Reviewer speaks of the author's "varied canvas, on which he sketches in lively colours the strange customs of those distant regions with their remarkable fauna, flora and geological peculiarities." Alluding to the translation, my father writes—"Dr. Dieffenbach...has translated my 'Journal' into German, and I must, with unpardonable vanity, boast that it was at the instigation of Liebig and Humboldt."
The geological work of which he speaks in the above letter to Mr. Fox occupied him for the whole of 1843, and was published in the spring of the following year. It was entitled 'Geological Observations on the Volcanic Islands, visited during the voyage of H.M.S. "Beagle", together with some brief notices on the geology of Australia and the Cape of Good Hope': it formed the second part of the 'Geology of the Voyage of the "Beagle",' published "with the Approval of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury." The volume on 'Coral Reefs' forms Part I. of the series, and was published, as we have seen, in 1842. For the sake of the non- geological reader, I may here quote Professor Geikie's words (Charles Darwin, 'Nature' Series, 1882.) on these two volumes—which were up to this time my father's chief geological works. Speaking of the 'Coral Reefs,' he says:—page 17, "This well-known treatise, the most original of all its author's geological memoirs, has become one of the classics of geological literature. The origin of those remarkable rings of coral-rock in mid- ocean has given rise to much speculation, but no satisfactory solution of the problem has been proposed. After visiting many of them, and examining also coral reefs that fringe islands and continents, he offered a theory which for simplicity and grandeur strikes every reader with astonishment. It is pleasant, after the lapse of many years, to recall the delight with which one first read the 'Coral Reefs'; how one watched the facts being marshalled into their places, nothing being ignored or passed lightly over; and how, step by step, one was led to the grand conclusion of wide oceanic subsidence. No more admirable example of scientific method was ever given to the world, and even if he had written nothing else, the treatise alone would have placed Darwin in the very front of investigators of nature."
It is interesting to see in the following extract from one of Lyell's letters (To Sir John Herschel, May 24, 1837. 'Life of Sir Charles Lyell,' vol. ii. page 12.) how warmly and readily he embraced the theory. The extract also gives incidentally some idea of the theory itself.
"I am very full of Darwin's new theory of Coral Islands, and have urged Whewell to make him read it at our next meeting. I must give up my volcanic crater theory for ever, though it cost me a pang at first, for it accounted for so much, the annular form, the central lagoon, the sudden rising of an isolated mountain in a deep sea; all went so well with the notion of submerged, crateriform, and conical volcanoes,...and then the fact that in the South Pacific we had scarcely any rocks in the regions of coral islands, save two kinds, coral limestone and volcanic! Yet spite of all this, the whole theory is knocked on the head, and the annular shape and central lagoon have nothing to do with volcanoes, nor even with a crateriform bottom. Perhaps Darwin told you when at the Cape what he considers the true cause? Let any mountain be submerged gradually, and coral grow in the sea in which it is sinking, and there will be a ring of coral, and finally only a lagoon in the centre. Why? For the same reason that a barrier reef of coral grows along certain coasts: Australia, etc. Coral islands are the last efforts of drowning continents to lift their heads above water. Regions of elevation and subsidence in the ocean may be traced by the state of the coral reefs." There is little to be said as to published contemporary criticism. The book was not reviewed in the 'Quarterly Review' till 1847, when a favourable notice was given. The reviewer speaks of the "bold and startling" character of the work, but seems to recognize the fact that the views are generally accepted by geologists. By that time the minds of men were becoming more ready to receive geology of this type. Even ten years before, in 1837, Lyell ('Life of Sir Charles Lyell,' vol. ii. page 6.) says, "people are now much better prepared to believe Darwin when he advances proofs of the slow rise of the Andes, than they were in 1830, when I first startled them with that doctrine." This sentence refers to the theory elaborated in my father's geological observations on South America (1846), but the gradual change in receptivity of the geological mind must have been favourable to all his geological work. Nevertheless, Lyell seems at first not to have expected any ready acceptance of the Coral theory; thus he wrote to my father in 1837:—"I could think of nothing for days after your lesson on coral reefs, but of the tops of submerged continents. It is all true, but do not flatter yourself that you will be believed till you are growing bald like me, with hard work and vexation at the incredulity of the world."
The second part of the 'Geology of the Voyage of the "Beagle",' i.e. the volume on Volcanic Islands, which specially concerns us now, cannot be better described than by again quoting from Professor Geikie (page 18):—
"Full of detailed observations, this work still remains the best authority on the general geological structure of most of the regions it describes. At the time it was written the 'crater of elevation theory,' though opposed by Constant Prevost, Scrope, and Lyell, was generally accepted, at least on the Continent. Darwin, however, could not receive it as a valid explanation of the facts; and though he did not share the view of its chief opponents, but ventured to propose a hypothesis of his own, the observations impartially made and described by him in this volume must be regarded as having contributed towards the final solution of the difficulty." Professor Geikie continues (page 21): "He is one of the earliest writers to recognize the magnitude of the denudation to which even recent geological accumulations have been subjected. One of the most impressive lessons to be learnt from his account of 'Volcanic Islands' is the prodigious extent to which they have been denuded...He was disposed to attribute more of this work to the sea than most geologists would now admit; but he lived himself to modify his original views, and on this subject his latest utterances are quite abreast of the time."
An extract from a letter of my father's to Lyell shows his estimate of his own work. "You have pleased me much by saying that you intend looking through my 'Volcanic Islands': it cost me eighteen months!!! and I have heard of very few who have read it. Now I shall feel, whatever little (and little it is) there is confirmatory of old work, or new, will work its effect and not be lost."
The third of his geological books, 'Geological Observations on South America,' may be mentioned here, although it was not published until 1846. "In this work the author embodied all the materials collected by him for the illustration of South American Geology, save some which have been published elsewhere. One of the most important features of the book was the evidence which it brought forward to prove the slow interrupted elevation of the South American Continent during a recent geological period." (Geikie, loc. cit.)
Of this book my father wrote to Lyell:—"My volume will be about 240 pages, dreadfully dull, yet much condensed. I think whenever you have time to look through it, you will think the collection of facts on the elevation of the land and on the formation of terraces pretty good."
Of his special geological work as a whole, Professor Geikie, while pointing out that it was not "of the same epoch-making kind as his biological researches," remarks that he "gave a powerful impulse to" the general reception of Lyell's teaching "by the way in which he gathered from all parts of the world facts in its support."
WORK OF THE PERIOD 1842 TO 1854.
The work of these years may be roughly divided into a period of geology from 1842 to 1846, and one of zoology from 1846 onwards.
I extract from his diary notices of the time spent on his geological books and on his 'Journal.'
'Volcanic Islands.' Summer of 1842 to January, 1844.
'Geology of South America.' July, 1844, to April, 1845.
Second Edition of 'The Journal,' October, 1845, to October, 1846.
The time between October, 1846, and October, 1854, was practically given up to working at the Cirripedia (Barnacles); the results were published in two volumes by the Ray Society in 1851 and 1854. His volumes on the Fossil Cirripedes were published by the Palaeontographical Society in 1851 and 1854.
Some account of these volumes will be given later.
The minor works may be placed together, independently of subject matter.
"Observations on the Structure, etc., of the genus Sagitta," Ann. Nat. Hist. xiii., 1844, pages 1-6.
"Brief descriptions of several Terrestrial Planariae, etc.," Ann. Nat. Hist. xiv., 1844, pages 241-251.
"An Account of the Fine Dust (A sentence occurs in this paper of interest, as showing that the author was alive to the importance of all means of distribution:—"The fact that particles of this size have been brought at least 330 miles from the land is interesting as bearing on the distribution of Cryptogamic plants.") which often Falls on Vessels in the Atlantic Ocean," Geol. Soc. Journ. ii., 1846, pages 26-30.
"On the Geology of the Falkland Islands," Geol. Soc. Journ. ii., 1846, pages 267-274.
"On the Transportal of Erratic Boulders, etc.," Geol. Soc. Journ. iv., 1848, pages 315-323. (An extract from a letter to Lyell, 1847, is of interest in connection with this essay:—"Would you be so good (if you know it) as to put Maclaren's address on the enclosed letter and post it. It is chiefly to enquire in what paper he has described the Boulders on Arthur's Seat. Mr. D. Milne in the last Edinburgh 'New Phil. Journal' , has a long paper on it. He says: 'Some glacialists have ventured to explain the transportation of boulders even in the situation of those now referred to, by imagining that they were transported on ice floes,' etc. He treats this view, and the scratching of rocks by icebergs, as almost absurd...he has finally stirred me up so, that (without you would answer him) I think I will send a paper in opposition to the same Journal. I can thus introduce some old remarks of mine, and some new, and will insist on your capital observations in N. America. It is a bore to stop one's work, but he has made me quite wroth.")
The article "Geology," in the Admiralty Manual of Scientific Enquiry (1849), pages 156-195. This was written in the spring of 1848.
"On British Fossil Lepadidae," 'Geol. Soc. Journ.' vi., 1850, pages 439- 440.
"Analogy of the structure of some Volcanic Rocks with that of Glaciers," 'Edin. Roy. Soc. Proc.' ii., 1851, pages 17-18.
Professor Geikie has been so good as to give me (in a letter dated November 1885) his impressions of my father's article in the 'Admiralty Manual.' He mentions the following points as characteristic of the work:—
"1. Great breadth of view. No one who had not practically studied and profoundly reflected on the questions discussed could have written it.
"2. The insight so remarkable in all that Mr. Darwin ever did. The way in which he points out lines of enquiry that would elucidate geological problems is eminently typical of him. Some of these lines have never yet been adequately followed; so with regard to them he was in advance of his time.
"3. Interesting and sympathetic treatment. The author at once puts his readers into harmony with him. He gives them enough of information to show how delightful the field is to which he invites them, and how much they might accomplish in it. There is a broad sketch of the subject which everybody can follow, and there is enough of detail to instruct and guide a beginner and start him on the right track.
"Of course, geology has made great strides since 1849, and the article, if written now, would need to take notice of other branches of inquiry, and to modify statements which are not now quite accurate; but most of the advice Mr. Darwin gives is as needful and valuable now as when it was given. It is curious to see with what unerring instinct he seems to have fastened on the principles that would stand the test of time."
In a letter to Lyell (1853) my father wrote, "I went up for a paper by the Arctic Dr. Sutherland, on ice action, read only in abstract, but I should think with much good matter. It was very pleasant to hear that it was written owing to the Admiralty Manual."
To give some idea of the retired life which now began for my father at Down, I have noted from his diary the short periods during which he was away from home between the autumn of 1842, when he came to Down, and the end of 1854.
1843 July.—Week at Maer and Shrewsbury. October.—Twelve days at Shrewsbury.
1844 April.—Week at Maer and Shrewsbury. July.—Twelve days at Shrewsbury.
1845 September 15.—Six weeks, "Shrewsbury, Lincolnshire, York, the Dean of Manchester, Waterton, Chatsworth."
1846 February.—Eleven days at Shrewsbury. July.—Ten days at Shrewsbury. September.—Ten days at Southampton, etc., for the British Association.
1847 February.—Twelve days at Shrewsbury. June.—Ten days at Oxford, etc., for the British Association. October.—Fortnight at Shrewsbury.
1848 May.—Fortnight at Shrewsbury. July.—Week at Swanage. October.—Fortnight at Shrewsbury. November.—Eleven days at Shrewsbury.
1849 March to June.—Sixteen weeks at Malvern. September.—Eleven days at Birmingham for the British Association.
1850 June.—Week at Malvern. August.—Week at Leith Hill, the house of a relative. October.—Week at the house of another relative.
1851 March.—Week at Malvern. April.—Nine days at Malvern. July.—Twelve days in London.
1852 March.—Week at Rugby and Shrewsbury. September.—Six days at the house of a relative.
1853 July.—Three weeks at Eastbourne. August.—Five days at the military Camp at Chobham.
1854 March.—Five days at the house of a relative. July.—Three days at the house of a relative. October.—Six days at the house of a relative.
It will be seen that he was absent from home sixty weeks in twelve years. But it must be remembered that much of the remaining time spent at Down was lost through ill-health.]
CHARLES DARWIN TO R. FITZ-ROY. Down [March 31st, 1843].
I read yesterday with surprise and the greatest interest, your appointment as Governor of New Zealand. I do not know whether to congratulate you on it, but I am sure I may the Colony, on possessing your zeal and energy. I am most anxious to know whether the report is true, for I cannot bear the thoughts of your leaving the country without seeing you once again; the past is often in my memory, and I feel that I owe to you much bygone enjoyment, and the whole destiny of my life, which (had my health been stronger) would have been one full of satisfaction to me. During the last three months I have never once gone up to London without intending to call in the hopes of seeing Mrs. Fitz-Roy and yourself; but I find, most unfortunately for myself, that the little excitement of breaking out of my most quiet routine so generally knocks me up, that I am able to do scarcely anything when in London, and I have not even been able to attend one evening meeting of the Geological Society. Otherwise, I am very well, as are, thank God, my wife and two children. The extreme retirement of this place suits us all very well, and we enjoy our country life much. But I am writing trifles about myself, when your mind and time must be fully occupied. My object in writing is to beg of you or Mrs. Fitz-Roy to have the kindness to send me one line to say whether it is true, and whether you sail soon. I shall come up next week for one or two days; could you see me for even five minutes, if I called early on Thursday morning, viz. at nine or ten o'clock, or at whatever hour (if you keep early ship hours) you finish your breakfast. Pray remember me very kindly to Mrs. Fitz-Roy, who I trust is able to look at her long voyage with boldness.
Believe me, dear Fitz-Roy, Your ever truly obliged, CHARLES DARWIN.
[A quotation from another letter (1846) to Fitz-Roy may be worth giving, as showing my father's affectionate remembrance of his old Captain.
"Farewell, dear Fitz-Roy, I often think of your many acts of kindness to me, and not seldomest on the time, no doubt quite forgotten by you, when, before making Madeira, you came and arranged my hammock with your own hands, and which, as I afterwards heard, brought tears into my father's eyes."]
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.D. FOX. [Down, September 5, 1843.] Monday morning.
My dear Fox,
When I sent off the glacier paper, I was just going out and so had no time to write. I hope your friend will enjoy (and I wish you were going there with him) his tour as much as I did. It was a kind of geological novel. But your friend must have patience, for he will not get a good GLACIAL EYE for a few days. Murchison and Count Keyserling RUSHED through North Wales the same autumn and could see nothing except the effects of rain trickling over the rocks! I cross-examined Murchison a little, and evidently saw he had looked carefully at nothing. I feel CERTAIN about the glacier-effects in North Wales. Get up your steam, if this weather lasts, and have a ramble in Wales; its glorious scenery must do every one's heart and body good. I wish I had energy to come to Delamere and go with you; but as you observe, you might as well ask St. Paul's. Whenever I give myself a trip, it shall be, I think, to Scotland, to hunt for more parallel roads. My marine theory for these roads was for a time knocked on the head by Agassiz ice-work, but it is now reviving again...
Farewell,—we are getting nearly finished—almost all the workmen gone, and the gravel laying down on the walks. Ave Maria! how the money does go. There are twice as many temptations to extravagance in the country compared with London. Adios.
Yours, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down [1844?].
...I have also read the 'Vestiges,' ('The Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation' was published anonymously in 1844, and is confidently believed to have been written by the late Robert Chambers. My father's copy gives signs of having been carefully read, a long list of marked passages being pinned in at the end. One useful lesson he seems to have learned from it. He writes: "The idea of a fish passing into a reptile, monstrous. I will not specify any genealogies—much too little known at present." He refers again to the book in a letter to Fox, February, 1845: "Have you read that strange, unphilosophical but capitally-written book, the 'Vestiges': it has made more talk than any work of late, and has been by some attributed to me—at which I ought to be much flattered and unflattered."), but have been somewhat less amused at it than you appear to have been: the writing and arrangement are certainly admirable, but his geology strikes me as bad, and his zoology far worse. I should be very much obliged, if at any future or leisure time you could tell me on what you ground your doubtful belief in imagination of a mother affecting her offspring. (This refers to the case of a relative of Sir J. Hooker's, who insisted that a mole, which appeared on one of her children, was the effect of fright upon herself on having, before the birth of the child, blotted with sepia a copy of Turner's 'Liber Studiorum' that had been lent to her with special injunctions to be careful.) I have attended to the several statements scattered about, but do not believe in more than accidental coincidences. W. Hunter told my father, then in a lying-in hospital, that in many thousand cases, he had asked the mother, BEFORE HER CONFINEMENT, whether anything had affected her imagination, and recorded the answers; and absolutely not one case came right, though, when the child was anything remarkable, they afterwards made the cap to fit. Reproduction seems governed by such similar laws in the whole animal kingdom, that I am most loth [to believe]...
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.M. HERBERT. Down [1844 or 1845].
My dear Herbert,
I was very glad to see your handwriting and hear a bit of news about you. Though you cannot come here this autumn, I do hope you and Mrs. Herbert will come in the winter, and we will have lots of talk of old times, and lots of Beethoven.
I have little or rather nothing to say about myself; we live like clock- work, and in what most people would consider the dullest possible manner. I have of late been slaving extra hard, to the great discomfiture of wretched digestive organs, at South America, and thank all the fates, I have done three-fourths of it. Writing plain English grows with me more and more difficult, and never attainable. As for your pretending that you will read anything so dull as my pure geological descriptions, lay not such a flattering unction on my soul (On the same subject he wrote to Fitz-Roy: "I have sent my 'South American Geology' to Dover Street, and you will get it, no doubt, in the course of time. You do not know what you threaten when you propose to read it—it is purely geological. I said to my brother, 'You will of course read it,' and his answer was, 'Upon my life, I would sooner even buy it.'") for it is incredible. I have long discovered that geologists never read each other's works, and that the only object in writing a book is a proof of earnestness, and that you do not form your opinions without undergoing labour of some kind. Geology is at present very oral, and what I here say is to a great extent quite true. But I am giving you a discussion as long as a chapter in the odious book itself.
I have lately been to Shrewsbury, and found my father surprisingly well and cheerful.
Believe me, my dear old friend, ever yours, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, Monday [February 10th, 1845].
My dear Hooker,
I am much obliged for your very agreeable letter; it was very good-natured, in the midst of your scientific and theatrical dissipation, to think of writing so long a letter to me. I am astonished at your news, and I must condole with you in your PRESENT view of the Professorship (Sir J.D. Hooker was a candidate for the Professorship of Botany at Edinburgh University.), and most heartily deplore it on my own account. There is something so chilling in a separation of so many hundred miles, though we did not see much of each other when nearer. You will hardly believe how deeply I regret for MYSELF your present prospects. I had looked forward to [our] seeing much of each other during our lives. It is a heavy disappointment; and in a mere selfish point of view, as aiding me in my work, your loss is indeed irreparable. But, on the other hand, I cannot doubt that you take at present a desponding, instead of bright, view of your prospects: surely there are great advantages, as well as disadvantages. The place is one of eminence; and really it appears to me there are so many indifferent workers, and so few readers, that it is a high advantage, in a purely scientific point of view, for a good worker to hold a position which leads others to attend to his work. I forget whether you attended Edinburgh, as a student, but in my time there was a knot of men who were far from being the indifferent and dull listeners which you expect for your audience. Reflect what a satisfaction and honour it would be to MAKE a good botanist —with your disposition you will be to many what Henslow was at Cambridge to me and others, a most kind friend and guide. Then what a fine garden, and how good a Public Library! why, Forbes always regrets the advantages of Edinburgh for work: think of the inestimable advantage of getting within a short walk of those noble rocks and hills and sandy shores near Edinburgh! Indeed, I cannot pity you much, though I pity myself exceedingly in your loss. Surely lecturing will, in a year or two, with your GREAT capacity for work (whatever you may be pleased to say to the contrary) become easy, and you will have a fair time for your Antarctic Flora and general views of distribution. If I thought your Professorship would stop your work, I should wish it and all the good worldly consequences at el Diavolo. I know I shall live to see you the first authority in Europe on that grand subject, that almost keystone of the laws of creation, Geographical Distribution. Well, there is one comfort, you will be at Kew, no doubt, every year, so I shall finish by forcing down your throat my sincere congratulations. Thanks for all your news. I grieve to hear Humboldt is failing; one cannot help feeling, though unrightly, that such an end is humiliating: even when I saw him he talked beyond all reason. If you see him again, pray give him my most respectful and kind compliments, and say that I never forget that my whole course of life is due to having read and re-read as a youth his 'Personal Narrative.' How true and pleasing are all your remarks on his kindness; think how many opportunities you will have, in your new place, of being a Humboldt to others. Ask him about the river in N.E. Europe, with the Flora very different on its opposite banks. I have got and read your Wilkes; what a feeble book in matter and style, and how splendidly got up! Do write me a line from Berlin. Also thanks for the proof-sheets. I do not, however, mean proof plates; I value them, as saving me copying extracts. Farewell, my dear Hooker, with a heavy heart I wish you joy of your prospects.
Your sincere friend, C. DARWIN.
[The second edition of the 'Journal,' to which the following letter refers, was completed between April 25th and August 25th. It was published by Mr. Murray in the 'Colonial and Home Library,' and in this more accessible form soon had a large sale.
Up to the time of his first negotiations with Mr. Murray for its publication in this form, he had received payment only in the form of a large number of presentation copies, and he seems to have been glad to sell the copyright of the second edition to Mr. Murray for 150 pounds.
The points of difference between it and the first edition are of interest chiefly in connection with the growth of the author's views on evolution, and will be considered later.]
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down [July, 1845].
My dear Lyell,
I send you the first part (No doubt proof-sheets.) of the new edition [of the 'Journal of Researches'], which I so entirely owe to you. You will see that I have ventured to dedicate it to you (The dedication of the second edition of the 'Journal of Researches,' is as follows:—"To Charles Lyell, Esq., F.R.S., this second edition is dedicated with grateful pleasure—as an acknowledgment that the chief part of whatever scientific merit this Journal and the other works of the Author may possess, has been derived from studying the well-known and admirable 'Principles of Geology.'"), and I trust that this cannot be disagreeable. I have long wished, not so much for your sake, as for my own feelings of honesty, to acknowledge more plainly than by mere reference, how much I geologically owe you. Those authors, however, who like you, educate people's minds as well as teach them special facts, can never, I should think, have full justice done them except by posterity, for the mind thus insensibly improved can hardly perceive its own upward ascent. I had intended putting in the present acknowledgment in the third part of my Geology, but its sale is so exceedingly small that I should not have had the satisfaction of thinking that as far as lay in my power I had owned, though imperfectly, my debt. Pray do not think that I am so silly, as to suppose that my dedication can any ways gratify you, except so far as I trust you will receive it, as a most sincere mark of my gratitude and friendship. I think I have improved this edition, especially the second part, which I have just finished. I have added a good deal about the Fuegians, and cut down into half the mercilessly long discussion on climate and glaciers, etc. I do not recollect anything added to the first part, long enough to call your attention to; there is a page of description of a very curious breed of oxen in Banda Oriental. I should like you to read the few last pages; there is a little discussion on extinction, which will not perhaps strike you as new, though it has so struck me, and has placed in my mind all the difficulties with respect to the causes of extinction, in the same class with other difficulties which are generally quite overlooked and undervalued by naturalists; I ought, however, to have made my discussion longer and shewn by facts, as I easily could, how steadily every species must be checked in its numbers.
I received your Travels ('Travels in North America,' 2 volumes, 1845.) yesterday; and I like exceedingly its external and internal appearance; I read only about a dozen pages last night (for I was tired with hay-making), but I saw quite enough to perceive how VERY much it will interest me, and how many passages will be scored. I am pleased to find a good sprinkling of Natural History; I shall be astonished if it does not sell very largely...
How sorry I am to think that we shall not see you here again for so long; I wish you may knock yourself a little bit up before you start and require a day's fresh air, before the ocean breezes blow on you...
Ever yours, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, Saturday [August 1st, 1845].
My dear Lyell,
I have been wishing to write to you for a week past, but every five minutes' worth of strength has been expended in getting out my second part. (Of the second edition of the 'Journal of Researches.') Your note pleased me a good deal more I dare say than my dedication did you, and I thank you much for it. Your work has interested me much, and I will give you my impressions, though, as I never thought you would care to hear what I thought of the non-scientific parts, I made no notes, nor took pains to remember any particular impression of two-thirds of the first volume. The first impression I should say would be with most (though I have literally seen not one soul since reading it) regret at there not being more of the non-scientific [parts]. I am not a good judge, for I have read nothing, i.e. non-scientific about North America, but the whole struck me as very new, fresh, and interesting. Your discussions bore to my mind the evident stamp of matured thought, and of conclusions drawn from facts observed by yourself, and not from the opinions of the people whom you met; and this I suspect is comparatively rare.
Your slave discussion disturbed me much; but as you would care no more for my opinion on this head than for the ashes of this letter, I will say nothing except that it gave me some sleepless, most uncomfortable hours. Your account of the religious state of the States particularly interested me; I am surprised throughout at your very proper boldness against the Clergy. In your University chapter the Clergy, and not the State of Education, are most severely and justly handled, and this I think is very bold, for I conceive you might crush a leaden-headed old Don, as a Don, with more safety, than touch the finger of that Corporate Animal, the Clergy. What a contrast in Education does England show itself! Your apology (using the term, like the old religionists who meant anything but an apology) for lectures, struck me as very clever; but all the arguments in the world on your side, are not equal to one course of Jamieson's Lectures on the other side, which I formerly for my sins experienced. Although I had read about the 'Coalfields in North America,' I never in the smallest degree really comprehended their area, their thickness and favourable position; nothing hardly astounded me more in your book.
Some few parts struck me as rather heterogeneous, but I do not know whether to an extent that at all signified. I missed however, a good deal, some general heading to the chapters, such as the two or three principal places visited. One has no right to expect an author to write down to the zero of geographical ignorance of the reader; but I not knowing a single place, was occasionally rather plagued in tracing your course. Sometimes in the beginning of a chapter, in one paragraph your course was traced through a half dozen places; anyone, as ignorant as myself, if he could be found, would prefer such a disturbing paragraph left out. I cut your map loose, and I found that a great comfort; I could not follow your engraved track. I think in a second edition, interspaces here and there of one line open, would be an improvement. By the way, I take credit to myself in giving my Journal a less scientific air in having printed all names of species and genera in Romans; the printing looks, also, better. All the illustrations strike me as capital, and the map is an admirable volume in itself. If your 'Principles' had not met with such universal admiration, I should have feared there would have been too much geology in this for the general reader; certainly all that the most clear and light style could do, has been done. To myself the geology was an excellent, well-condensed, well- digested resume of all that has been made out in North America, and every geologist ought to be grateful to you. The summing up of the Niagara chapter appeared to me the grandest part; I was also deeply interested by your discussion on the origin of the Silurian formations. I have made scores of SCORES marking passages hereafter useful to me.
All the coal theory appeared to me very good; but it is no use going on enumerating in this manner. I wish there had been more Natural History; I liked ALL the scattered fragments. I have now given you an exact transcript of my thoughts, but they are hardly worth your reading...
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, August 25th .
My dear Lyell,
This is literally the first day on which I have had any time to spare; and I will amuse myself by beginning a letter to you...
I was delighted with your letter in which you touch on Slavery; I wish the same feelings had been apparent in your published discussion. But I will not write on this subject, I should perhaps annoy you, and most certainly myself. I have exhaled myself with a paragraph or two in my Journal on the sin of Brazilian slavery; you perhaps will think that it is in answer to you; but such is not the case. I have remarked on nothing which I did not hear on the coast of South America. My few sentences, however, are merely an explosion of feeling. How could you relate so placidly that atrocious sentiment (In the passage referred to, Lyell does not give his own views, but those of a planter.) about separating children from their parents; and in the next page speak of being distressed at the whites not having prospered; I assure you the contrast made me exclaim out. But I have broken my intention, and so no more on this odious deadly subject.
There is a favourable, but not strong enough review on you, in the "Gardeners' Chronicle". I am sorry to see that Lindley abides by the carbonic acid gas theory. By the way, I was much pleased by Lindley picking out my extinction paragraphs and giving them uncurtailed. To my mind, putting the comparative rarity of existing species in the same category with extinction has removed a great weight; though of course it does not explain anything, it shows that until we can explain comparative rarity, we ought not to feel any surprise at not explaining extinction...
I am much pleased to hear of the call for a new edition of the 'Principles': what glorious good that work has done. I fear this time you will not be amongst the old rocks; how I shall rejoice to live to see you publish and discover another stage below the Silurian—it would be the grandest step possible, I think. I am very glad to hear what progress Bunbury is making in fossil Botany; there is a fine hiatus for him to fill up in this country. I will certainly call on him this winter...From what little I saw of him, I can quite believe everything which you say of his talents...
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Shrewsbury [1845?].
My dear Hooker,
I have just received your note, which has astonished me, and has most truly grieved me. I never for one minute doubted of your success, for I most erroneously imagined, that merit was sure to gain the day. I feel most sure that the day will come soon, when those who have voted against you, if they have any shame or conscience in them, will be ashamed at having allowed politics to blind their eyes to your qualifications, and those qualifications vouched for by Humboldt and Brown! Well, those testimonials must be a consolation to you. Proh pudor! I am vexed and indignant by turns. I cannot even take comfort in thinking that I shall see more of you, and extract more knowledge from your well-arranged stock. I am pleased to think, that after having read a few of your letters, I never once doubted the position you will ultimately hold amongst European Botanists. I can think about nothing else, otherwise I should like [to] discuss 'Cosmos' (A translation of Humboldt's 'Kosmos.') with you. I trust you will pay me and my wife a visit this autumn at Down. I shall be at Down on the 24th, and till then moving about.
My dear Hooker, allow me to call myself Your very true friend, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. October 8th , Shrewsbury.
...I have lately been taking a little tour to see a farm I have purchased in Lincolnshire (He speaks of his Lincolnshire farm in a letter to Henslow (July 4th):—"I have bought a farm in Lincolnshire, and when I go there this autumn, I mean to see what I can do in providing any cottage on my small estate with gardens. It is a hopeless thing to look to, but I believe few things would do this country more good in future ages than the destruction of primogeniture, so as to lessen the difference in land- wealth, and make more small freeholders. How atrociously unjust are the stamp laws, which render it so expensive for the poor man to buy his quarter of an acre; it makes one's blood burn with indignation.") and then to York, where I visited the Dean of Manchester (Hon. and Rev. W. Herbert. The visit is mentioned in a letter to Dr. Hooker:—"I have been taking a little tour, partly on business, and visited the Dean of Manchester, and had very much interesting talk with him on hybrids, sterility, and variation, etc., etc. He is full of self-gained knowledge, but knows surprisingly little what others have done on the same subjects. He is very heterodox on 'species': not much better as most naturalists would esteem it, than poor Mr. Vestiges.") the great maker of Hybrids, who gave me much curious information. I also visited Waterton at Walton Hall, and was extremely amused with my visit there. He is an amusing strange fellow; at our early dinner, our party consisted of two Catholic priests and two Mulattresses! He is past sixty years old, and the day before ran down and caught a leveret in a turnip-field. It is a fine old house, and the lake swarms with water-fowl. I then saw Chatsworth, and was in transport with the great hothouse; it is a perfect fragment of a tropical forest, and the sight made me think with delight of old recollections. My little ten-day tour made me feel wonderfully strong at the time, but the good effects did not last. My wife, I am sorry to say, does not get very strong, and the children are the hope of the family, for they are all happy, life, and spirits. I have been much interested with Sedgwick's review (Sedgwick's review of the 'Vestiges of Creation' in the 'Edinburgh Review,' July, 1845.) though I find it far from popular with our scientific readers. I think some few passages savour of the dogmatism of the pulpit, rather than of the philosophy of the Professor's Chair; and some of the wit strikes me as only worthy of — in the 'Quarterly.' Nevertheless, it is a grand piece of argument against mutability of species, and I read it with fear and trembling, but was well pleased to find that I had not overlooked any of the arguments, though I had put them to myself as feebly as milk and water. Have you read 'Cosmos' yet? The English translation is wretched, and the semi-metaphysico-politico descriptions in the first part are barely intelligible; but I think the volcanic discussion well worth your attention, it has astonished me by its vigour and information. I grieve to find Humboldt an adorer of Von Buch, with his classification of volcanos, craters of elevation, etc., etc., and carbonic acid gas atmosphere. He is indeed a wonderful man.
I hope to get home in a fortnight and stick to my wearyful South America till I finish it. I shall be very anxious to hear how you get on from the Horners, but you must not think of wasting your time by writing to me. We shall miss, indeed, your visits to Down, and I shall feel a lost man in London without my morning "house of call" at Hart Street...
Believe me, my dear Lyell, ever yours, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, Farnborough, Kent. Thursday, September, 1846.
My dear Hooker,
I hope this letter will catch you at Clifton, but I have been prevented writing by being unwell, and having had the Horners here as visitors, which, with my abominable press-work, has fully occupied my time. It is, indeed, a long time since we wrote to each other; though, I beg to tell you, that I wrote last, but what about I cannot remember, except, I know, it was after reading your last numbers (Sir J.D. Hooker's Antarctic Botany.), and I send you a uniquely laudatory epistle, considering it was from a man who hardly knows a Daisy from a Dandelion to a professed Botanist...
I cannot remember what papers have given me the impression, but I have that, which you state to be the case, firmly fixed on my mind, namely, the little chemical importance of the soil to its vegetation. What a strong fact it is, as R. Brown once remarked to me, of certain plants being calcareous ones here, which are not so under a more favourable climate on the Continent, or the reverse, for I forget which; but you, no doubt, will know to what I refer. By-the-way, there are some such cases in Herbert's paper in the 'Horticultural Journal.' ('Journal of the Horticultural Society,' 1846.) Have you read it: it struck me as extremely original, and bears DIRECTLY on your present researches. (Sir J.D. Hooker was at this time attending to polymorphism, variability, etc.) To a NON-BOTANIST the chalk has the most peculiar aspect of any flora in England; why will you not come here to make your observations? WE go to Southampton, if my courage and stomach do not fail, for the Brit. Assoc. (Do you not consider it your duty to be there?) And why cannot you come here afterward and WORK?...
THE MONOGRAPH OF THE CIRRIPEDIA,
October 1846 to October 1854.
[Writing to Sir J.D. Hooker in 1845, my father says: "I hope this next summer to finish my South American Geology, then to get out a little Zoology, and hurrah for my species work..." This passage serves to show that he had at this time no intention of making an exhaustive study of the Cirripedes. Indeed it would seem that his original intention was, as I learn from Sir J.D. Hooker, merely to work out one special problem. This is quite in keeping with the following passage in the Autobiography: "When on the coast of Chile, I found a most curious form, which burrowed into the shells of Concholepas, and which differed so much from all other Cirripedes that I had to form a new sub-order for its sole reception...To understand the structure of my new Cirripede I had to examine and dissect many of the common forms; and this gradually led me on to take up the whole group." In later years he seems to have felt some doubt as to the value of these eight years of work,—for instance when he wrote in his Autobiography—"My work was of considerable use to me, when I had to discuss in the 'Origin of Species,' the principles of a natural classification. Nevertheless I doubt whether the work was worth the consumption of so much time." Yet I learn from Sir J.D. Hooker that he certainly recognised at the time its value to himself as systematic training. Sir Joseph writes to me: "Your father recognised three stages in his career as a biologist: the mere collector at Cambridge; the collector and observer in the "Beagle", and for some years afterwards; and the trained naturalist after, and only after the Cirripede work. That he was a thinker all along is true enough, and there is a vast deal in his writings previous to the Cirripedes that a trained naturalist could but emulate...He often alluded to it as a valued discipline, and added that even the 'hateful' work of digging out synonyms, and of describing, not only improved his methods but opened his eyes to the difficulties and merits of the works of the dullest of cataloguers. One result was that he would never allow a depreciatory remark to pass unchallenged on the poorest class of scientific workers, provided that their work was honest, and good of its kind. I have always regarded it as one of the finest traits of his character,—this generous appreciation of the hod-men of science, and of their labours...and it was monographing the Barnacles that brought it about."
Professor Huxley allows me to quote his opinion as to the value of the eight years given to the Cirripedes:—
"In my opinion your sagacious father never did a wiser thing than when he devoted himself to the years of patient toil which the Cirripede-book cost him.
"Like the rest of us, he had no proper training in biological science, and it has always struck me as a remarkable instance of his scientific insight, that he saw the necessity of giving himself such training, and of his courage, that he did not shirk the labour of obtaining it.
"The great danger which besets all men of large speculative faculty, is the temptation to deal with the accepted statements of facts in natural science, as if they were not only correct, but exhaustive; as if they might be dealt with deductively, in the same way as propositions in Euclid may be dealt with. In reality, every such statement, however true it may be, is true only relatively to the means of observation and the point of view of those who have enunciated it. So far it may be depended upon. But whether it will bear every speculative conclusion that may be logically deduced from it, is quite another question.
"Your father was building a vast superstructure upon the foundations furnished by the recognised facts of geological and biological science. In Physical Geography, in Geology proper, in Geographical Distribution, and in Palaeontology, he had acquired an extensive practical training during the voyage of the "Beagle". He knew of his own knowledge the way in which the raw materials of these branches of science are acquired, and was therefore a most competent judge of the speculative strain they would bear. That which he needed, after his return to England, was a corresponding acquaintance with Anatomy and Development, and their relation to Taxonomy— and he acquired this by his Cirripede work.
"Thus, in my apprehension, the value of the Cirripede monograph lies not merely in the fact that it is a very admirable piece of work, and constituted a great addition to positive knowledge, but still more in the circumstance that it was a piece of critical self-discipline, the effect of which manifested itself in everything your father wrote afterwards, and saved him from endless errors of detail.
"So far from such work being a loss of time, I believe it would have been well worth his while, had it been practicable, to have supplemented it by a special study of embryology and physiology. His hands would have been greatly strengthened thereby when he came to write out sundry chapters of the 'Origin of Species.' But of course in those days it was almost impossible for him to find facilities for such work."
No one can look a the two volumes on the recent Cirripedes, of 399 and 684 pages respectively (not to speak of the volumes on the fossil species), without being struck by the immense amount of detailed work which they contain. The forty plates, some of them with thirty figures, and the fourteen pages of index in the two volumes together, give some rough idea of the labour spent on the work. (The reader unacquainted with Zoology will find some account of the more interesting results in Mr. Romanes' article on "Charles Darwin" ('Nature' Series, 1882).) The state of knowledge, as regards the Cirripedes, was most unsatisfactory at the time that my father began to work at them. As an illustration of this fact, it may be mentioned that he had even to re-organise the nomenclature of the group, or, as he expressed it, he "unwillingly found it indispensable to give names to several valves, and to some few of the softer parts of Cirripedes." (Vol. i. page 3.) It is interesting to learn from his diary the amount of time which he gave to different genera. Thus the genus Chthamalus, the description of which occupies twenty-two pages, occupied him for thirty-six days; Coronula took nineteen days, and is described in twenty-seven pages. Writing to Fitz-Roy, he speaks of being "for the last half-month daily hard at work in dissecting a little animal about the size of a pin's head, from the Chonos archipelago, and I could spend another month, and daily see more beautiful structure."
Though he became excessively weary of the work before the end of the eight years, he had much keen enjoyment in the course of it. Thus he wrote to Sir J.D. Hooker (1847?):—"As you say, there is an extraordinary pleasure in pure observation; not but what I suspect the pleasure in this case is rather derived from comparisons forming in one's mind with allied structures. After having been so long employed in writing my old geological observations, it is delightful to use one's eyes and fingers again." It was, in fact, a return to the work which occupied so much of his time when at sea during his voyage. His zoological notes of that period give an impression of vigorous work, hampered by ignorance and want of appliances. And his untiring industry in the dissection of marine animals, especially of Crustacea, must have been of value to him as training for his Cirripede work. Most of his work was done with the simple dissecting microscope—but it was the need which he found for higher powers that induced him, in 1846, to buy a compound microscope. He wrote to Hooker:—"When I was drawing with L., I was so delighted with the appearance of the objects, especially with their perspective, as seen through the weak powers of a good compound microscope, that I am going to order one; indeed, I often have structures in which the 1/30 is not power enough."
During part of the time covered by the present chapter, my father suffered perhaps more from ill-health than at any other time of his life. He felt severely the depressing influence of these long years of illness; thus as early as 1840 he wrote to Fox: "I am grown a dull, old, spiritless dog to what I used to be. One gets stupider as one grows older I think." It is not wonderful that he should so have written, it is rather to be wondered at that his spirit withstood so great and constant a strain. He wrote to Sir J.D. Hooker in 1845: "You are very kind in your enquiries about my health; I have nothing to say about it, being always much the same, some days better and some worse. I believe I have not had one whole day, or rather night, without my stomach having been greatly disordered, during the last three years, and most days great prostration of strength: thank you for your kindness; many of my friends, I believe, think me a hypochondriac."
Again, in 1849, he notes in his diary:—"January 1st to March 10th.—Health very bad, with much sickness and failure of power. Worked on all well days." This was written just before his first visit to Dr. Gully's Water- Cure Establishment at Malvern. In April of the same year he wrote:—"I believe I am going on very well, but I am rather weary of my present inactive life, and the water-cure has the most extraordinary effect in producing indolence and stagnation of mind: till experiencing it, I could not have believed it possible. I now increase in weight, have escaped sickness for thirty days." He returned in June, after sixteen weeks' absence, much improved in health, and, as already described, continued the water-cure at home for some time.]
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down [October, 1846].
My dear Hooker,
I have not heard from Sulivan (Admiral Sir B.J. Sulivan, formerly an officer of the "Beagle".) lately; when he last wrote he named from 8th to 10th as the most likely time. Immediately that I hear, I will fly you a line, for the chance of your being able to come. I forget whether you know him, but I suppose so; he is a real good fellow. Anyhow, if you do not come then, I am very glad that you propose coming soon after...
I am going to begin some papers on the lower marine animals, which will last me some months, perhaps a year, and then I shall begin looking over my ten-year-long accumulation of notes on species and varieties, which, with writing, I dare say will take me five years, and then, when published, I dare say I shall stand infinitely low in the opinion of all sound Naturalists—so this is my prospect for the future.
Are you a good hand at inventing names. I have a quite new and curious genus of Barnacle, which I want to name, and how to invent a name completely puzzles me.
By the way, I have told you nothing about Southampton. We enjoyed (wife and myself) our week beyond measure: the papers were all dull, but I met so many friends and made so many new acquaintances (especially some of the Irish Naturalists), and took so many pleasant excursions. I wish you had been there. On Sunday we had so pleasant an excursion to Winchester with Falconer (Hugh Falconer, 1809-1865. Chiefly known as a palaeontologist, although employed as a botanist during his whole career in India, where he was also a medical officer in the H.E.I.C. Service; he was superintendent of the Company's garden, first at Saharunpore, and then at Calcutta. He was one of the first botanical explorers of Kashmir. Falconer's discoveries of Miocene mammalian remains in the Sewalik Hills, were, at the time, perhaps the greatest "finds" which had been made. His book on the subject, 'Fauna Antiqua Sivalensis,' remained unfinished at the time of his death.), Colonel Sabine (The late Sir Edward Sabine, formerly President of the Royal Society, and author of a long series of memoirs on Terrestrial Magnetism.), and Dr. Robinson (The late Dr. Thomas Romney Robinson, of the Armagh Observatory.), and others. I never enjoyed a day more in my life. I missed having a look at H. Watson. (The late Hewett Cottrell Watson, author of the 'Cybele Britannica,' one of a most valuable series of works on the topography and geographical distribution of the plants of the British Islands.) I suppose you heard that he met Forbes and told him he had a severe article in the Press. I understood that Forbes explained to him that he had no cause to complain, but as the article was printed, he would not withdraw it, but offered it to Forbes for him to append notes to it, which Forbes naturally declined...
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, April 7th [1847?}.
My dear Hooker,
I should have written before now, had I not been almost continually unwell, and at present I am suffering from four boils and swellings, one of which hardly allows me the use of my right arm, and has stopped all my work, and damped all my spirits. I was much disappointed at missing my trip to Kew, and the more so, as I had forgotten you would be away all this month; but I had no choice, and was in bed nearly all Friday and Saturday. I congratulate you over your improved prospects about India (Sir J. Hooker left England on November 11, 1847, for his Himalayan and Tibetan journey. The expedition was supported by a small grant from the Treasury, and thus assumed the character of a Government mission.), but at the same time must sincerely groan over it. I shall feel quite lost without you to discuss many points with, and to point out (ill-luck to you) difficulties and objections to my species hypotheses. It will be a horrid shame if money stops your expedition; but Government will surely help you to some extent...Your present trip, with your new views, amongst the coal-plants, will be very interesting. If you have spare time, BUT NOT WITHOUT, I should enjoy having some news of your progress. Your present trip will work well in, if you go to any of the coal districts in India. Would this not be a good object to parade before Government; the utilitarian souls would comprehend this. By the way, I will get some work out of you, about the domestic races of animals in India...
CHARLES DARWIN TO L. JENYNS (BLOMEFIELD). Down .
("This letter relates to a small Almanack first published in 1843, under the name of 'The Naturalists' Pocket Almanack,' by Mr. Van Voorst, and which I edited for him. It was intended especially for those who interest themselves in the periodic phenomena of animals and plants, of which a select list was given under each month of the year.
"The Pocket Almanack contained, moreover, miscellaneous information relating to Zoology and Botany; to Natural History and other scientific societies; to public Museums and Gardens, in addition to the ordinary celestial phenomena found in most other Almanacks. It continued to be issued till 1847, after which year the publication was abandoned."—From a letter from Rev. L. Blomefield to F. Darwin.)
I am very much obliged for the capital little Almanack; it so happened that I was wishing for one to keep in my portfolio. I had never seen this kind before, and shall certainly get one for the future. I think it is very amusing to have a list before one's eyes of the order of appearance of the plants and animals around one; it gives a fresh interest to each fine day. There is one point I should like to see a little improved, viz., the correction for the clock at shorter intervals. Most people, I suspect, who like myself have dials, will wish to be more precise than with a margin of three minutes. I always buy a shilling almanack for this SOLE end. By the way, YOURS, i.e., Van Voorst's Almanack, is very dear; it ought, at least, to be advertised post-free for the shilling. Do you not think a table (not rules) of conversion of French into English measures, and perhaps weights, would be exceedingly useful; also centigrade into Fahrenheit,—magnifying powers according to focal distances?—in fact you might make it the more useful publication of the age. I know what I should like best of all, namely, current meteorological remarks for each month, with statement of average course of winds and prediction of weather, in accordance with movements of barometer. People, I think, are always amused at knowing the extremes and means of temperature for corresponding times in other years.
I hope you will go on with it another year. With many thanks, my dear Jenyns,
Yours very truly, CHARLES DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, Sunday [April 18th, 1847].
My dear Hooker,
I return with many thanks Watson's letter, which I have had copied. It is a capital one, and I am extremely obliged to you for obtaining me such valuable information. Surely he is rather in a hurry when he says intermediate varieties must almost be necessarily rare, otherwise they would be taken as the types of the species; for he overlooks numerical frequency as an element. Surely if A, B, C were three varieties, and if A were a good deal the commonest (therefore, also, first known), it would be taken as the type, without regarding whether B was quite intermediate or not, or whether it was rare or not. What capital essays W would write; but I suppose he has written a good deal in the 'Phytologist.' You ought to encourage him to publish on variation; it is a shame that such facts as those in his letter should remain unpublished. I must get you to introduce me to him; would he be a good and sociable man for Dropmore? (A much enjoyed expedition made from Oxford—when the British Association met there in 1847.) though if he comes, Forbes must not (and I think you talked of inviting Forbes), or we shall have a glorious battle. I should like to see sometime the war correspondence. Have you the 'Phytologist,' and could you sometime spare it? I would go through it quickly...I have read your last five numbers (Of the Botany of Hooker's 'Antarctic Voyage.'), and as usual have been much interested in several points, especially with your discussions on the beech and potato. I see you have introduced several sentences against us Transmutationists. I have also been looking through the latter volumes of the 'Annals of Natural History,' and have read two such soulless, pompous papers of —, quite worthy of the author...The contrast of the papers in the "Annals" with those in the "Annales" is rather humiliating; so many papers in the former, with short descriptions of species, without one word on their affinities, internal structure, range or habits. I am now reading —, and I have picked out some things which have interested me; but he strikes me as rather dullish, and with all his Materia Medica smells of the doctor's shop. I shall ever hate the name of the Materia Medica, since hearing Duncan's lectures at eight o'clock on a winter's morning—a whole, cold breakfastless hour on the properties of rhubarb!
I hope your journey will be very prosperous. Believe me, my dear Hooker,
Ever yours, C. DARWIN.
P.S.—I think I have only made one new acquaintance of late, that is R. Chambers; and I have just received a presentation copy of the sixth edition of the 'Vestiges.' Somehow I now feel perfectly convinced he is the author. He is in France, and has written to me thence.
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down [1847?].
...I am delighted to hear that Brongniart thought Sigillaria aquatic, and that Binney considers coal a sort of submarine peat. I would bet 5 to 1 that in twenty years this will be generally admitted (An unfulfilled prophecy.); and I do not care for whatever the botanical difficulties or impossibilities may be. If I could but persuade myself that Sigillaria and Co. had a good range of depth, i.e., could live from 5 to 100 fathoms under water, all difficulties of nearly all kinds would be removed (for the simple fact of muddy ordinary shallow sea implies proximity of land). [N.B.—I am chuckling to think how you are sneering all this time.] It is not much of a difficulty, there not being shells with the coal, considering how unfavourable deep mud is for most Mollusca, and that shells would probably decay from the humic acid, as seems to take place in peat and in the BLACK moulds (as Lyell tells me) of the Mississippi. So coal question settled—Q.E.D. Sneer away!
Many thanks for your welcome note from Cambridge, and I am glad you like my alma mater, which I despise heartily as a place of education, but love from many most pleasant recollections...
Thanks for your offer of the 'Phytologist;' I shall be very much obliged for it, for I do not suppose I should be able to borrow it from any other quarter. I will not be set up too much by your praise, but I do not believe I ever lost a book or forgot to return it during a long lapse of time. Your 'Webb' is well wrapped up, and with your name in large letters OUTSIDE.
My new microscope is come home (a "splendid plaything," as old R. Brown called it), and I am delighted with it; it really is a splendid plaything. I have been in London for three days, and saw many of our friends. I was extremely sorry to hear a not very good account of Sir William. Farewell, my dear Hooker, and be a good boy, and make Sigillaria a submarine sea- weed.
Ever yours, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down [May 6th, 1847].
My dear Hooker,
You have made a savage onslaught, and I must try to defend myself. But, first, let me say that I never write to you except for my own good pleasure; now I fear that you answer me when busy and without inclination (and I am sure I should have none if I was as busy as you). Pray do not do so, and if I thought my writing entailed an answer from you nolens volens, it would destroy all my pleasure in writing. Firstly, I did not consider my letter as REASONING, or even as SPECULATION, but simply as mental rioting; and as I was sending Binney's paper, I poured out to you the result of reading it. Secondly, you are right, indeed, in thinking me mad, if you suppose that I would class any ferns as marine plants; but surely there is a wide distinction between the plants found upright in the coal- beds and those not upright, and which might have been drifted. Is it not possible that the same circumstances which have preserved the vegetation in situ, should have preserved drifted plants? I know Calamites is found upright; but I fancied its affinities were very obscure, like Sigillaria. As for Lepidodendron, I forgot its existence, as happens when one goes riot, and now know neither what it is, or whether upright. If these plants, i.e. Calamites and Lepidodendron, have VERY CLEAR RELATIONS to terrestrial vegetables, like the ferns have, and are found upright in situ, of course I must give up the ghost. But surely Sigillaria is the main upright plant, and on its obscure affinities I have heard you enlarge.
Thirdly, it never entered my head to undervalue botanical relatively to zoological evidence; except in so far as I thought it was admitted that the vegetative structure seldom yielded any evidence of affinity nearer than that of families, and not always so much. And is it not in plants, as certainly it is in animals, dangerous to judge of habits without very near affinity. Could a Botanist tell from structure alone that the Mangrove family, almost or quite alone in Dicotyledons, could live in the sea, and the Zostera family almost alone among the Monocotyledons? Is it a safe argument, that because algae are almost the only, or the only submerged sea-plants, that formerly other groups had not members with such habits? With animals such an argument would not be conclusive, as I could illustrate by many examples; but I am forgetting myself; I want only to some degree to defend myself, and not burn my fingers by attacking you. The foundation of my letter, and what is my deliberate opinion, though I dare say you will think it absurd, is that I would rather trust, caeteris paribus, pure geological evidence than either zoological or botanical evidence. I do not say that I would sooner trust POOR geological evidence than GOOD organic. I think the basis of pure geological reasoning is simpler (consisting chiefly of the action of water on the crust of the earth, and its up and down movements) than a basis drawn from the difficult subject of affinities and of structure in relation to habits. I can hardly analyze the facts on which I have come to this conclusion; but I can illustrate it. Pallas's account would lead any one to suppose that the Siberian strata, with the frozen carcasses, had been quickly deposited, and hence that the embedded animals had lived in the neighbourhood; but our zoological knowledge of thirty years ago led every one falsely to reject this conclusion.
Tell me that an upright fern in situ occurs with Sigillaria and Stigmaria, or that the affinities of Calamites and Lepidodendron (supposing that they are found in situ with Sigillaria) are so CLEAR, that they could not have been marine, like, but in a greater degree, than the mangrove and sea- wrack, and I will humbly apologise to you and all Botanists for having let my mind run riot on a subject on which assuredly I know nothing. But till I hear this, I shall keep privately to my own opinion with the same pertinacity and, as you will think, with the same philosophical spirit with which Koenig maintains that Cheirotherium-footsteps are fuci.
Whether this letter will sink me lower in your opinion, or put me a little right, I know not, but hope the latter. Anyhow, I have revenged myself with boring you with a very long epistle. Farewell, and be forgiving. Ever yours,
P.S.—When will you return to Kew? I have forgotten one main object of my letter, to thank you MUCH for your offer of the 'Hort. Journal,' but I have ordered the two numbers.
[The two following extracts  give the continuation and conclusion of the coal battle.
"By the way, as submarine coal made you so wrath, I thought I would experimentise on Falconer and Bunbury (The late Sir C. Bunbury, well-known as a palaeobotanist.) together, and it made [them] even more savage; 'such infernal nonsense ought to be thrashed out of me.' Bunbury was more polite and contemptuous. So I now know how to stir up and show off any Botanist. I wonder whether Zoologists and Geologists have got their tender points; I wish I could find out."
"I cannot resist thanking you for your most kind note. Pray do not think that I was annoyed by your letter: I perceived that you had been thinking with animation, and accordingly expressed yourself strongly, and so I understood it. Forfend me from a man who weighs every expression with Scotch prudence. I heartily wish you all success in your noble problem, and I shall be very curious to have some talk with you and hear your ultimatum."]