CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. (Parts of two letters.) Down [October, 1847].
I congratulate you heartily on your arrangements being completed, with some prospect for the future. It will be a noble voyage and journey, but I wish it was over, I shall miss you selfishly and all ways to a dreadful extent ...I am in great perplexity how we are to meet...I can well understand how dreadfully busy you must be. If you CANNOT come here, you MUST let me come to you for a night; for I must have one more chat and one more quarrel with you over the coal.
By the way, I endeavoured to stir up Lyell (who has been staying here some days with me) to theorise on the coal: his oolitic UPRIGHT Equisetums are dreadful for my submarine flora. I should die much easier if some one would solve me the coal question. I sometimes think it could not have been formed at all. Old Sir Anthony Carlisle once said to me gravely, that he supposed Megatherium and such cattle were just sent down from heaven to see whether the earth would support them; and I suppose the coal was rained down to puzzle mortals. You must work the coal well in India.
Ever yours, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. [November 6th, 1847.]
My dear Hooker,
I have just received your note with sincere grief: there is no help for it. I shall always look at your intention of coming here, under such circumstances, as the greatest proof of friendship I ever received from mortal man. My conscience would have upbraided me in not having come to you on Thursday, but, as it turned out, I could not, for I was quite unable to leave Shrewsbury before that day, and I reached home only last night, much knocked up. Without I hear to-morrow (which is hardly possible), and if I am feeling pretty well, I will drive over to Kew on Monday morning, just to say farewell. I will stay only an hour...
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. [November, 1847.]
My dear Hooker,
I am very unwell, and incapable of doing anything. I do hope I have not inconvenienced you. I was so unwell all yesterday, that I was rejoicing you were not here; for it would have been a bitter mortification to me to have had you here and not enjoyed your last day. I shall not now see you. Farewell, and God bless you.
Your affectionate friend, C. DARWIN.
I will write to you in India.
[In 1847 appeared a paper by Mr. D. Milne (Now Mr. Milne Home. The essay was published in Transactions of the Edinburgh Royal Society, vol. xvi.), in which my father's Glen Roy work is criticised, and which is referred to in the following characteristic extract from a letter to Sir J. Hooker:] "I have been bad enough for these few last days, having had to think and write too much about Glen Roy...Mr. Milne having attacked my theory, which made me horribly sick." I have not been able to find any published reply to Mr. Milne, so that I imagine the "writing" mentioned was confined to letters. Mr. Milne's paper was not destructive to the Glen Roy paper, and this my father recognises in the following extract from a letter to Lyell (March, 1847). The reference to Chambers is explained by the fact that he accompanied Mr. Milne in his visit to Glen Roy. "I got R. Chambers to give me a sketch of Milne's Glen Roy views, and I have re-read my paper, and am, now that I have heard what is to be said, not even staggered. It is provoking and humiliating to find that Chambers not only had not read with any care my paper on this subject, or even looked at the coloured map, so that the new shelf described by me had not been searched for, and my arguments and facts of detail not in the least attended to. I entirely gave up the ghost, and was quite chicken-hearted at the Geological Society, till you reassured and reminded me of the main facts in the whole case."
The two following letters to Lyell, though of later date (June, 1848), bear on the same subject:—
"I was at the evening meeting [of the Geological Society], but did not get within hail of you. What a fool (though I must say a very amusing one) — did make of himself. Your speech was refreshing after it, and was well characterized by Fox (my cousin) in three words—'What a contrast!' That struck me as a capital speculation about the Wealden Continent going down. I did not hear what you settled at the Council; I was quite wearied out and bewildered. I find Smith, of Jordan Hill, has a much worse opinion of R. Chambers's book than even I have. Chambers has piqued me a little ('Ancient Sea Margins, 1848.' The words quoted by my father should be "the mobility of the land was an ascendant idea."); he says I 'propound' and 'profess my belief' that Glen Roy is marine, and that the idea was accepted because the 'mobility of the land was the ascendant idea of the day.' He adds some very faint UPPER lines in Glen Spean (seen, by the way, by Agassiz), and has shown that Milne and Kemp are right in there being horizontal aqueous markings (NOT at coincident levels with those of Glen Roy) in other parts of Scotland at great heights, and he adds several other cases. This is the whole of his addition to the data. He not only takes my line of argument from the buttresses and terraces below the lower shelf and some other arguments (without acknowledgment), but he sneers at all his predecessors not having perceived the importance of the short portions of lines intermediate between the chief ones in Glen Roy; whereas I commence the description of them with saying, that 'perceiving their importance, I examined them with scrupulous care,' and expatiate at considerable length on them. I have indirectly told him I do not think he has quite claims to consider that he alone (which he pretty directly asserts) has solved the problem of Glen Roy. With respect to the terraces at lower levels coincident in height all round Scotland and England, I am inclined to believe he shows some little probability of there being some leading ones coincident, but much more exact evidence is required. Would you believe it credible? he advances as a probable solution to account for the rise of Great Britain that in some great ocean one-twentieth of the bottom of the whole aqueous surface of the globe has sunk in (he does not say where he puts it) for a thickness of half a mile, and this he has calculated would make an apparent rise of 130 feet."
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down [June, 1848].
My dear Lyell,
Out of justice to Chambers I must trouble you with one line to say, as far as I am personally concerned in Glen Roy, he has made the amende honorable, and pleads guilty through inadvertency of taking my two lines of arguments and facts without acknowledgment. He concluded by saying he "came to the same point by an independent course of inquiry, which in a small degree excuses this inadvertency." His letter altogether shows a very good disposition, and says he is "much gratified with the MEASURED approbation which you bestow, etc." I am heartily glad I was able to say in truth that I thought he had done good service in calling more attention to the subject of the terraces. He protests it is unfair to call the sinking of the sea his theory, for that he with care always speaks of mere change of level, and this is quite true; but the one section in which he shows how he conceives the sea might sink is so astonishing, that I believe it will with others, as with me, more than counterbalance his previous caution. I hope that you may think better of the book than I do.
Yours most truly, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. October 6th, 1848.
...I have lately been trying to get up an agitation (but I shall not succeed, and indeed doubt whether I have time and strength to go on with it), against the practice of Naturalists appending for perpetuity the name of the FIRST describer to species. I look at this as a direct premium to hasty work, to NAMING instead of DESCRIBING. A species ought to have a name so well known that the addition of the author's name would be superfluous, and a [piece] of empty vanity. (His contempt for the self- regarding spirit in a naturalist is illustrated by an anecdote, for which I am indebted to Rev. L. Blomefield. After speaking of my father's love of Entomology at Cambridge, Mr. Blomefield continues:—"He occasionally came over from Cambridge to my Vicarage at Swaffham Bulbeck, and we went out together to collect insects in the woods at Bottisham Hall, close at hand, or made longer excursions in the Fens. On one occasion he captured in a large bag net, with which he used vigorously to sweep the weeds and long grass, a rare coleopterous insect, one of the Lepturidae, which I myself had never taken in Cambridgeshire. He was pleased with his capture, and of course carried it home in triumph. Some years afterwards, the voyage of the 'Beagle' having been made in the interim, talking over old times with him, I reverted to this circumstance, and asked if he remembered it. 'Oh, yes,' (he said,) 'I remember it well; and I was selfish enough to keep the specimen, when you were collecting materials for a Fauna of Cambridgeshire, and for a local museum in the Philosophical Society.' He followed this up with some remarks on the pettiness of collectors, who aimed at nothing beyond filling their cabinets with rare things.") At present, it would not do to give mere specific names; but I think Zoologists might open the road to the omission, by referring to good systematic writers instead of to first describers. Botany, I fancy, has not suffered so much as Zoology from mere NAMING; the characters, fortunately, are more obscure. Have you ever thought on this point? Why should Naturalists append their own names to new species, when Mineralogists and Chemists do not do so to new substances? When you write to Falconer pray remember me affectionately to him. I grieve most sincerely to hear that he has been ill, my dear Hooker, God bless you, and fare you well.
Your sincere friend, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO HUGH STRICKLAND. (Hugh Edwin Strickland, M.A., F.R.S., was born 2nd of March, 1811, and educated at Rugby, under Arnold, and at Oriel College, Oxford. In 1835 and 1836 he travelled through Europe to the Levant with W.J. Hamilton, the geologist, wintering in Asia Minor. In 1841 he brought the subject of Natural History Nomenclature before the British Association, and prepared the Code of Rules for Zoological Nomenclature, now known by his name—the principles of which are very generally adopted. In 1843 he was one of the founders (if not the original projector) of the Ray Society. In 1845 he married the second daughter of Sir William Jardine, Bart. In 1850 he was appointed, in consequence of Buckland's illness, Deputy Reader in Geology at Oxford. His promising career was suddenly cut short on September 14, 1853, when, while geologizing in a railway cutting between Retford and Gainsborough, he was run over by a train and instantly killed. A memoir of him and a reprint of his principal contributions to journals was published by Sir William Jardine in 1858; but he was also the author of 'The Dodo and its Kindred' (1848); 'Bibliographia Zoologiae' (the latter in conjunction with Louis Agassiz, and issued by the Ray Society); 'Ornithological Synonyms' (one volume only published, and that posthumously). A catalogue of his ornithological collection, given by his widow to the University of Cambridge, was compiled by Mr. Salvin, and published in 1882. (I am indebted to Prof. Newton for the above note.)) Down, January 29th .
...What a labour you have undertaken; I do HONOUR your devoted zeal in the good cause of Natural Science. Do you happen to have a SPARE copy of the Nomenclature rules published in the 'British Association Transactions?' if you have, and would give it to me, I should be truly obliged, for I grudge buying the volume for it. I have found the rules very useful, it is quite a comfort to have something to rest on in the turbulent ocean of nomenclature (and am accordingly grateful to you), though I find it very difficult to obey always. Here is a case (and I think it should have been noticed in the rules), Coronula, Cineras and Otion, are names adopted by Cuvier, Lamarck, Owen, and almost EVERY well-known writer, but I find that all three names were anticipated by a German: now I believe if I were to follow the strict rule of priority, more harm would be done than good, and more especially as I feel sure that the newly fished-up names would not be adopted. I have almost made up my mind to reject the rule of priority in this case; would you grudge the trouble to send me your opinion? I have been led of late to reflect much on the subject of naming, and I have come to a fixed opinion that the plan of the first describer's name, being appended for perpetuity to a species, had been the greatest curse to Natural History. Some months since, I wrote out the enclosed badly drawn- up paper, thinking that perhaps I would agitate the subject; but the fit has passed, and I do not suppose I ever shall; I send it you for the CHANCE of your caring to see my notions. I have been surprised to find in conversation that several naturalists were of nearly my way of thinking. I feel sure as long as species-mongers have their vanity tickled by seeing their own names appended to a species, because they miserably described it in two or three lines, we shall have the same VAST amount of bad work as at present, and which is enough to dishearten any man who is willing to work out any branch with care and time. I find every genus of Cirripedia has half-a-dozen names, and not one careful description of any one species in any one genus. I do not believe that this would have been the case if each man knew that the memory of his own name depended on his doing his work well, and not upon merely appending a name with a few wretched lines indicating only a few prominent external characters. But I will not weary you with any longer tirade. Read my paper or NOT, just as you like, and return it whenever you please.
Yours most sincerely, C. DARWIN.
HUGH STRICKLAND TO CHARLES DARWIN. The Lodge, Tewkesbury, January 31st, 1849.
...I have next to notice your second objection—that retaining the name of the FIRST describer in perpetuum along with that of the species, is a premium on hasty and careless work. This is quite a different question from that of the law of priority itself, and it never occurred to me before, though it seems highly probable that the general recognition of that law may produce such a result. We must try to counteract this evil in some other way.
The object of appending the name of a man to the name of a species is not to gratify the vanity of the man, but to indicate more precisely the species. Sometimes two men will, by accident, give the same name (independently) to two species of the same genus. More frequently a later author will misapply the specific name of an older one. Thus the Helix putris of Montagu is not H. putris of Linnaeus, though Montague supposed it to be so. In such a case we cannot define the species by Helix putris alone, but must append the name of the author whom we quote. But when a species has never borne but one name (as Corvus frugilegus), and no other species of Corvus has borne the same name, it is, of course, unnecessary to add the author's name. Yet even here I like the form Corvus frugilegus, Linn., as it reminds us that this is one of the old species, long known, and to be found in the 'Systema Naturae,' etc. I fear, therefore, that (at least until our nomenclature is more definitely settled) it will be impossible to indicate species with scientific accuracy, without adding the name of their first author. You may, indeed, do it as you propose, by saying in Lam. An. Invert., etc., but then this would be incompatible with the law of priority, for where Lamarck has violated that low, one cannot adopt his name. It is, nevertheless, highly conducive to accurate indication to append to the (oldest) specific name ONE good reference to a standard work, especially to a FIGURE, with an accompanying synonym if necessary. This method may be cumbrous, but cumbrousness is a far less evil than uncertainty.
It, moreover, seems hardly possible to carry out the PRIORITY principle, without the historical aid afforded by appending the author's name to the specific one. If I, a PRIORITY MAN, called a species C.D., it implies that C.D. is the oldest name that I know of; but in order that you and others may judge of the propriety of that name, you must ascertain when, and by whom, the name was first coined. Now, if to the specific name C.D., I append the name A.B., of its first describer, I at once furnish you with the clue to the dates when, and the book in which, this description was given, and I thus assist you in determining whether C.D. be really the oldest, and therefore the correct, designation.
I do, however, admit that the priority principle (excellent as it is) has a tendency, when the author's name is added, to encourage vanity and slovenly work. I think, however, that much might be done to discourage those obscure and unsatisfactory definitions of which you so justly complain, by WRITING DOWN the practice. Let the better disposed naturalists combine to make a formal protest against all vague, loose, and inadequate definitions of (supposed) new species. Let a committee (say of the British Association) be appointed to prepare a sort of CLASS LIST of the various modern works in which new species are described, arranged in order of merit. The lowest class would contain the worst examples of the kind, and their authors would thus be exposed to the obloquy which they deserve, and be gibbeted in terrorem for the edification of those who may come after.
I have thus candidly stated my views (I hope intelligibly) of what seems best to be done in the present transitional and dangerous state of systematic zoology. Innumerable labourers, many of them crotchety and half-educated, are rushing into the field, and it depends, I think, on the present generation whether the science is to descend to posterity a chaotic mass, or possessed of some traces of law and organisation. If we could only get a congress of deputies from the chief scientific bodies of Europe and America, something might be done, but, as the case stands, I confess I do not clearly see my way, beyond humbly endeavouring to reform NUMBER ONE.
Yours ever, H.E. STRICKLAND.
CHARLES DARWIN TO HUGH STRICKLAND. Down, Sunday [February 4th, 1849].
My dear Strickland,
I am, in truth, GREATLY obliged to you for your long, most interesting, and clear letter, and the Report. I will consider your arguments, which are of the greatest weight, but I confess I cannot yet bring myself to reject very WELL-KNOWN names, not in ONE country, but over the world, for obscure ones,—simply on the ground that I do not believe I should be followed. Pray believe that I should break the law of priority only in rare cases; will you read the enclosed (and return it), and tell me whether it does not stagger you? (N.B. I PROMISE that I will not give you any more trouble.) I want simple answers, and not for you to waste your time in reasons; I am curious for your answer in regard to Balanus. I put the case of Otion, etc., to W. Thompson, who is fierce for the law of priority, and he gave it up in such well-known names. I am in a perfect maze of doubt on nomenclature. In not one large genus of Cirripedia has ANY ONE species been correctly defined; it is pure guesswork (being guided by range and commonness and habits) to recognise any species: thus I can make out, from plates or descriptions, hardly any of the British sessile cirripedes. I cannot bear to give new names to all the species, and yet I shall perhaps do wrong to attach old names by little better than guess; I cannot at present tell the least which of two species all writers have meant by the common Anatifera laevis; I have, therefore, given that name to the one which is rather the commonest. Literally, not one species is properly defined; not one naturalist has ever taken the trouble to open the shell of any species to describe it scientifically, and yet all the genera have half-a-dozen synonyms. For ARGUMENT'S sake, suppose I do my work thoroughly well, any one who happens to have the original specimens named, I will say by Chenu, who has figured and named hundreds of species, will be able to upset all my names according to the law of priority (for he may maintain his descriptions are sufficient), do you think it advantageous to science that this should be done: I think not, and that convenience and high merit (here put as mere argument) had better come into some play. The subject is heart-breaking.
I hope you will occasionally turn in your mind my argument of the evil done by the "mihi" attached to specific names; I can most clearly see the EXCESSIVE evil it has caused; in mineralogy I have myself found there is no rage to merely name; a person does not take up the subject without he intends to work it out, as he knows that his ONLY claim to merit rests on his work being ably done, and has no relation whatever to NAMING. I give up one point, and grant that reference to first describer's name should be given in all systematic works, but I think something would be gained if a reference was given without the author's name being actually appended as part of the binomial name, and I think, except in systematic works, a reference, such as I propose, would damp vanity much. I think a very wrong spirit runs through all Natural History, as if some merit was due to a man for merely naming and defining a species; I think scarcely any, or none, is due; if he works out MINUTELY and anatomically any one species, or systematically a whole group, credit is due, but I must think the mere defining a species is nothing, and that no INJUSTICE is done him if it be overlooked, though a great inconvenience to Natural History is thus caused. I do not think more credit is due to a man for defining a species, than to a carpenter for making a box. But I am foolish and rabid against species- mongers, or rather against their vanity; it is useful and necessary work which must be done; but they act as if they had actually made the species, and it was their own property.
I use Agassiz's nomenclator; at least two-thirds of the dates in the Cirripedia are grossly wrong.
I shall do what I can in fossil Cirripedia, and should be very grateful for specimens; but I do not believe that species (and hardly genera) can be defined by single valves; as in every recent species yet examined their forms vary greatly: to describe a species by valves alone, is the same as to describe a crab from SMALL portions of its carapace alone, these portions being highly variable, and not, as in Crustacea, modelled over viscera. I sincerely apologise for the trouble which I have given you, but indeed I will give no more.
Yours most sincerely, C. DARWIN.
P.S.—In conversation I found Owen and Andrew Smith much inclined to throw over the practice of attaching authors' names; I believe if I agitated I could get a large party to join. W. Thompson agreed some way with me, but was not prepared to go nearly as far as I am.
CHARLES DARWIN TO HUGH STRICKLAND. Down, February 10th .
My dear Strickland,
I have again to thank you cordially for your letter. Your remarks shall fructify to some extent, and I will try to be more faithful to rigid virtue and priority; but as for calling Balanus "Lepas" (which I did not think of), I cannot do it, my pen won't write it—it is IMPOSSIBLE. I have great hopes some of my difficulties will disappear, owing to wrong dates in Agassiz, and to my having to run several genera into one, for I have as yet gone, in but few cases, to original sources. With respect to adopting my own notions in my Cirripedia book, I should not like to do so without I found others approved, and in some public way,—nor, indeed, is it well adapted, as I can never recognise a species without I have the original specimen, which, fortunately, I have in many cases in the British Museum. Thus far I mean to adopt my notion, as never putting mihi or "Darwin" after my own species, and in the anatomical text giving no authors' names at all, as the systematic Part will serve for those who want to know the History of a species as far as I can imperfectly work it out...
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. [The Lodge, Malvern, March 28th, 1849.]
My dear Hooker,
Your letter of the 13th of October has remained unanswered till this day! What an ungrateful return for a letter which interested me so much, and which contained so much and curious information. But I have had a bad winter.
On the 13th of November, my poor dear father died, and no one who did not know him would believe that a man above eighty-three years old could have retained so tender and affectionate a disposition, with all his sagacity unclouded to the last. I was at the time so unwell, that I was unable to travel, which added to my misery. Indeed, all this winter I have been bad enough...and my nervous system began to be affected, so that my hands trembled, and head was often swimming. I was not able to do anything one day out of three, and was altogether too dispirited to write to you, or to do anything but what I was compelled. I thought I was rapidly going the way of all flesh. Having heard, accidentally, of two persons who had received much benefit from the water-cure, I got Dr. Gully's book, and made further enquiries, and at last started here, with wife, children, and all our servants. We have taken a house for two months, and have been here a fortnight. I am already a little stronger...Dr. Gully feels pretty sure he can do me good, which most certainly the regular doctors could not...I feel certain that the water-cure is no quackery.
How I shall enjoy getting back to Down with renovated health, if such is to be my good fortune, and resuming the beloved Barnacles. Now I hope that you will forgive me for my negligence in not having sooner answered your letter. I was uncommonly interested by the sketch you give of your intended grand expedition, from which I suppose you will soon be returning. How earnestly I hope that it may prove in every way successful...
[When my father was at the Water-cure Establishment at Malvern he was brought into contact with clairvoyance, of which he writes in the following extract from a letter to Fox, September, 1850.
"You speak about Homoeopathy, which is a subject which makes me more wrath, even than does Clairvoyance. Clairvoyance so transcends belief, that one's ordinary faculties are put out of the question, but in homoeopathy common sense and common observation come into play, and both these must go to the dogs, if the infinitesimal doses have any effect whatever. How true is a remark I saw the other day by Quetelet, in respect to evidence of curative processes, viz., that no one knows in disease what is the simple result of nothing being done, as a standard with which to compare homoeopathy, and all other such things. It is a sad flaw, I cannot but think, in my beloved Dr. Gully, that he believes in everything. When Miss — was very ill, he had a clairvoyant girl to report on internal changes, a mesmerist to put her to sleep—an homoeopathist, viz. Dr. —, and himself as hydropathist! and the girl recovered."
A passage out of an earlier letter to Fox (December, 1884) shows that he was equally sceptical on the subject of mesmerism: "With respect to mesmerism, the whole country resounds with wonderful facts or tales..I have just heard of a child, three or four years old (whose parents and self I well knew) mesmerised by his father, which is the first fact which has staggered me. I shall not believe fully till I see or hear from good evidence of animals (as has been stated is possible) not drugged, being put to stupor; of course the impossibility would not prove mesmerism false; but it is the only clear experimentum crucis, and I am astonished it has not been systematically tried. If mesmerism was investigated, like a science, this could not have been left till the present day to be DONE SATISFACTORILY, as it has been I believe left. Keep some cats yourself, and do get some mesmeriser to attempt it. One man told me he had succeeded, but his experiments were most vague, and as was likely from a man who said cats were more easily done than other animals, because they were so electrical!"]
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, December 4th .
My dear Lyell,
This letter requires no answer, and I write from exuberance of vanity. Dana has sent me the Geology of the United States Expedition, and I have just read the Coral part. To begin with a modest speech, I AM ASTONISHED AT MY OWN ACCURACY!! If I were to rewrite now my Coral book there is hardly a sentence I should have to alter, except that I ought to have attributed more effect to recent volcanic action in checking growth of coral. When I say all this I ought to add that the CONSEQUENCES of the theory on areas of subsidence are treated in a separate chapter to which I have not come, and in this, I suspect, we shall differ more. Dana talks of agreeing with my theory IN MOST POINTS; I can find out not one in which he differs. Considering how infinitely more he saw of Coral Reefs than I did, this is wonderfully satisfactory to me. He treats me most courteously. There now, my vanity is pretty well satisfied...
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Malvern, April 9th, 1849.
My dear Hooker,
The very next morning after posting my last letter (I think on 23rd of March), I received your two interesting gossipaceous and geological letters; and the latter I have since exchanged with Lyell for his. I will write higglety-pigglety just as subjects occur. I saw the Review in the 'Athenaeum,' it was written in an ill-natured spirit; but the whole virus consisted in saying that there was not novelty enough in your remarks for publication. No one, nowadays, cares for reviews. I may just mention that my Journal got some REAL GOOD abuse, "presumption," etc.,—ended with saying that the volume appeared "made up of the scraps and rubbish of the author's portfolio." I most truly enter into what you say, and quite believe you that you care only for the review with respect to your father; and that this ALONE would make you like to see extracts from your letters more properly noticed in this same periodical. I have considered to the very best of my judgment whether any portion of your present letters are adapted for the 'Athenaeum' (in which I have no interest; the beasts not having even NOTICED my three geological volumes which I had sent to them), and I have come to the conclusion it is better not to send them. I feel sure, considering all the circumstances, that without you took pains and wrote WITH CARE, a condensed and finished sketch of some striking feature in your travels, it is better not to send anything. These two letters are, moreover, rather too geological for the 'Athenaeum,' and almost require woodcuts. On the other hand, there are hardly enough details for a communication to the Geological Society. I have not the SMALLEST DOUBT that your facts are of the highest interest with regard to glacial action in the Himalaya; but it struck both Lyell and myself that your evidence ought to have been given more distinctly...
I have written so lately that I have nothing to say about myself; my health prevented me going on with a crusade against "mihi" and "nobis," of which you warn me of the dangers. I showed my paper to three or four Naturalists, and they all agreed with me to a certain extent: with health and vigour, I would not have shown a white feather, [and] with aid of half- a-dozen really good Naturalists, I believe something might have been done against the miserable and degrading passion of mere species naming. In your letter you wonder what "Ornamental Poultry" has to do with Barnacles; but do not flatter yourself that I shall not yet live to finish the Barnacles, and then make a fool of myself on the subject of species, under which head ornamental Poultry are very interesting...
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. The Lodge, Malvern [June, 1849].
...I have got your book ('A Second Visit to the United States.'), and have read all the first and a small part of the second volume (reading is the hardest work allowed here), and greatly I have been interested by it. It makes me long to be a Yankee. E. desires me to say that she quite "gloated" over the truth of your remarks on religious progress...I delight to think how you will disgust some of the bigots and educational dons. As yet there has not been MUCH Geology or Natural History, for which I hope you feel a little ashamed. Your remarks on all social subjects strike me as worthy of the author of the 'Principles.' And yet (I know it is prejudice and pride) if I had written the Principles, I never would have written any travels; but I believe I am more jealous about the honour and glory of the Principles than you are yourself...
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. September 14th, 1849.
...I go on with my aqueous processes, and very steadily but slowly gain health and strength. Against all rules, I dined at Chevening with Lord Mahon, who did me the great honour of calling on me, and how he heard of me I can't guess. I was charmed with Lady Mahon, and any one might have been proud at the pieces of agreeableness which came from her beautiful lips with respect to you. I like old Lord Stanhope very much; though he abused Geology and Zoology heartily. "To suppose that the Omnipotent God made a world, found it a failure, and broke it up, and then made it again, and again broke it up, as the Geologists say, is all fiddle faddle. Describing Species of birds and shells, etc., is all fiddle faddle..."
I am heartily glad we shall meet at Birmingham, as I trust we shall, if my health will but keep up. I work now every day at the Cirripedia for 2 1/2 hours, and so get on a little, but very slowly. I sometimes, after being a whole week employed and having described perhaps only two species, agree mentally with Lord Stanhope, that it is all fiddle faddle; however, the other day I got a curious case of a unisexual, instead of hermaphrodite cirripede, in which the female had the common cirripedial character, and in two valves of her shell had two little pockets, in EACH of which she kept a little husband; I do not know of any other case where a female invariably has two husbands. I have one still odder fact, common to several species, namely, that though they are hermaphrodite, they have small additional, or as I shall call them, complemental males, one specimen itself hermaphrodite had no less than SEVEN, of these complemental males attached to it. Truly the schemes and wonders of Nature are illimitable. But I am running on as badly about my cirripedia as about Geology; it makes me groan to think that probably I shall never again have the exquisite pleasure of making out some new district, of evolving geological light out of some troubled dark region. So I must make the best of my Cirripedia...
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, October 12th, 1849.
...By the way, one of the pleasantest parts of the British Association was my journey down to Birmingham with Mrs. Sabine, Mrs. Reeve, and the Colonel; also Col. Sykes and Porter. Mrs. Sabine and myself agreed wonderfully on many points, and in none more sincerely than about you. We spoke about your letters from the Erebus; and she quite agreed with me, that you and the AUTHOR (Sir J. Hooker wrote the spirited description of cattle hunting in Sir J. Ross's 'Voyage of Discovery in the Southern Regions,' 1847, vol. ii., page 245.), of the description of the cattle hunting in the Falklands, would have made a capital book together! A very nice woman she is, and so is her sharp and sagacious mother...Birmingham was very flat compared to Oxford, though I had my wife with me. We saw a good deal of the Lyells and Horners and Robinsons (the President); but the place was dismal, and I was prevented, by being unwell, from going to Warwick, though that, i.e., the party, by all accounts, was wonderfully inferior to Blenheim, not to say anything of that heavenly day at Dropmore. One gets weary of all the spouting...
You ask about my cold-water cure; I am going on very well, and am certainly a little better every month, my nights mend much slower than my days. I have built a douche, and am to go on through all the winter, frost or no frost. My treatment now is lamp five times per week, and shallow bath for five minutes afterwards; douche daily for five minutes, and dripping sheet daily. The treatment is wonderfully tonic, and I have had more better consecutive days this month than on any previous ones...I am allowed to work now two and a half hours daily, and I find it as much as I can do, for the cold-water cure, together with three short walks, is curiously exhausting; and I am actually FORCED to go to bed at eight o'clock completely tired. I steadily gain in weight, and eat immensely, and am never oppressed with my food. I have lost the involuntary twitching of the muscle, and all the fainting feelings, etc—black spots before eyes, etc. Dr. Gully thinks he shall quite cure me in six or nine months more.
The greatest bore, which I find in the water-cure, is the having been compelled to give up all reading, except the newspapers; for my daily two and a half hours at the Barnacles is fully as much as I can do of anything which occupies the mind; I am consequently terribly behind in all scientific books. I have of late been at work at mere species describing, which is much more difficult than I expected, and has much the same sort of interest as a puzzle has; but I confess I often feel wearied with the work, and cannot help sometimes asking myself what is the good of spending a week or fortnight in ascertaining that certain just perceptible differences blend together and constitute varieties and not species. As long as I am on anatomy I never feel myself in that disgusting, horrid, cui bono, inquiring, humour. What miserable work, again, it is searching for priority of names. I have just finished two species, which possess seven generic, and twenty-four specific names! My chief comfort is, that the work must be sometime done, and I may as well do it, as any one else.
I have given up my agitation against mihi and nobis; my paper is too long to send to you, so you must see it, if you care to do so, on your return. By-the-way, you say in your letter that you care more for my species work than for the Barnacles; now this is too bad of you, for I declare your decided approval of my plain Barnacle work over theoretic species work, had very great influence in deciding me to go on with the former, and defer my species paper...
[The following letter refers to the death of his little daughter, which took place at Malvern on April 24, 1851:]
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.D. FOX. Down, April 29th .
My dear Fox,
I do not suppose you will have heard of our bitter and cruel loss. Poor dear little Annie, when going on very well at Malvern, was taken with a vomiting attack, which was at first thought of the smallest importance; but it rapidly assumed the form of a low and dreadful fever, which carried her off in ten days. Thank God, she suffered hardly at all, and expired as tranquilly as a little angel. Our only consolation is that she passed a short, though joyous life. She was my favourite child; her cordiality, openness, buoyant joyousness and strong affections made her most lovable. Poor dear little soul. Well it is all over...
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.D. FOX. Down, March 7th .
My dear Fox,
It is indeed an age since we have had any communication, and very glad I was to receive your note. Our long silence occurred to me a few weeks since, and I had then thought of writing, but was idle. I congratulate and condole with you on your TENTH child; but please to observe when I have a tenth, send only condolences to me. We have now seven children, all well, thank God, as well as their mother; of these seven, five are boys; and my father used to say that it was certain that a boy gave as much trouble as three girls; so that bona fide we have seventeen children. It makes me sick whenever I think of professions; all seem hopelessly bad, and as yet I cannot see a ray of light. I should very much like to talk over this (by the way, my three bugbears are Californian and Australian gold, beggaring me by making my money on mortgage worth nothing; the French coming by the Westerham and Sevenoaks roads, and therefore enclosing Down; and thirdly, professions for my boys), and I should like to talk about education, on which you ask me what we are doing. No one can more truly despise the old stereotyped stupid classical education than I do; but yet I have not had courage to break through the trammels. After many doubts we have just sent our eldest boy to Rugby, where for his age he has been very well placed...I honour, admire, and envy you for educating your boys at home. What on earth shall you do with your boys? Towards the end of this month we go to see W. at Rugby, and thence for five or six days to Susan (His sister.) at Shrewsbury; I then return home to look after the babies, and E. goes to F. Wedgwood's of Etruria for a week. Very many thanks for your most kind and large invitation to Delamere, but I fear we can hardly compass it. I dread going anywhere, on account of my stomach so easily failing under any excitement. I rarely even now go to London; not that I am at all worse, perhaps rather better, and lead a very comfortable life with my three hours of daily work, but it is the life of a hermit. My nights are ALWAYS bad, and that stops my becoming vigorous. You ask about water-cure. I take at intervals of two or three months, five or six weeks of MODERATELY severe treatment, and always with good effect. Do you come here, I pray and beg whenever you can find time; you cannot tell how much pleasure it would give me and E. I have finished the 1st volume for the Ray Society of Pedunculated Cirripedes, which, as I think you are a member, you will soon get. Read what I describe on the sexes of Ibla and Scalpellum. I am now at work on the Sessile Cirripedes, and am wonderfully tired of my job: a man to be a systematic naturalist ought to work at least eight hours per day. You saw through me, when you said that I must have wished to have seen the effects of the [word illegible] Debacle, for I was saying a week ago to E., that had I been as I was in old days, I would have been certainly off that hour. You ask after Erasmus; he is much as usual, and constantly more or less unwell. Susan (His sister.) is much better, and very flourishing and happy. Catherine (Another sister.) is at Rome, and has enjoyed it in a degree that is quite astonishing to my dry old bones. And now I think I have told you enough, and more than enough about the house of Darwin; so my dear old friend, farewell. What pleasant times we had in drinking coffee in your rooms at Christ's College, and think of the glories of Crux major. (The beetle Panagaeus crux-major.) Ah, in those days there were no professions for sons, no ill-health to fear for them, no Californian gold, no French invasions. How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by children. My dread is hereditary ill- health. Even death is better for them.
My dear Fox, your sincere friend, C. DARWIN.
P.S.—Susan has lately been working in a way which I think truly heroic about the scandalous violation of the Act against children climbing chimneys. We have set up a little Society in Shrewsbury to prosecute those who break the law. It is all Susan's doing. She has had very nice letters from Lord Shaftesbury and the Duke of Sutherland, but the brutal Shropshire squires are as hard as stones to move. The Act out of London seems most commonly violated. It makes one shudder to fancy one of one's own children at seven years old being forced up a chimney—to say nothing of the consequent loathsome disease and ulcerated limbs, and utter moral degradation. If you think strongly on this subject, do make some inquiries; add to your many good works, this other one, and try to stir up the magistrates. There are several people making a stir in different parts of England on this subject. It is not very likely that you would wish for such, but I could send you some essays and information if you so liked, either for yourself or to give away.
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.D. FOX. Down [October 24th, 1852].
My dear Fox,
I received your long and most welcome letter this morning, and will answer it this evening, as I shall be very busy with an artist, drawing Cirripedia, and much overworked for the next fortnight. But first you deserve to be well abused—and pray consider yourself well abused—for thinking or writing that I could for one minute be bored by any amount of detail about yourself and belongings. It is just what I like hearing; believe me that I often think of old days spent with you, and sometimes can hardly believe what a jolly careless individual one was in those old days. A bright autumn evening often brings to mind some shooting excursion from Osmaston. I do indeed regret that we live so far off each other, and that I am so little locomotive. I have been unusually well of late (no water- cure), but I do not find that I can stand any change better than formerly...The other day I went to London and back, and the fatigue, though so trifling, brought on my bad form of vomiting. I grieve to hear that your chest has been ailing, and most sincerely do I hope that it is only the muscles; how frequently the voice fails with the clergy. I can well understand your reluctance to break up your large and happy party and go abroad; but your life is very valuable, so you ought to be very cautious in good time. You ask about all of us, now five boys (oh! the professions; oh! the gold; and oh! the French—these three oh's all rank as dreadful bugbears) and two girls...but another and the worst of my bugbears is hereditary weakness. All my sisters are well except Mrs. Parker, who is much out of health; and so is Erasmus at his poor average: he has lately moved into Queen Anne Street. I had heard of the intended marriage (To the Rev. J. Hughes.) of your sister Frances. I believe I have seen her since, but my memory takes me back some twenty-five years, when she was lying down. I remember well the delightful expression of her countenance. I most sincerely wish her all happiness.
I see I have not answered half your queries. We like very well all that we have seen and heard of Rugby, and have never repented of sending Ẉ there. I feel sure schools have greatly improved since our days; but I hate schools and the whole system of breaking through the affections of the family by separating the boys so early in life; but I see no help, and dare not run the risk of a youth being exposed to the temptations of the world without having undergone the milder ordeal of a great school.
I see you even ask after our pears. We have lots of Beurrees d'Aremberg, Winter Nelis, Marie Louise, and "Ne plus Ultra," but all off the wall; the standard dwarfs have borne a few, but I have no room for more trees, so their names would be useless to me. You really must make a holiday and pay us a visit sometime; nowhere could you be more heartily welcome. I am at work at the second volume of the Cirripedia, of which creatures I am wonderfully tired. I hate a Barnacle as no man ever did before, not even a sailor in a slow-sailing ship. My first volume is out; the only part worth looking at is on the sexes of Ibla and Scalpellum. I hope by next summer to have done with my tedious work. Farewell,—do come whenever you can possibly manage it.
I cannot but hope that the carbuncle may possibly do you good: I have heard of all sorts of weaknesses disappearing after a carbuncle. I suppose the pain is dreadful. I agree most entirely, what a blessed discovery is chloroform. When one thinks of one's children, it makes quite a little difference in one's happiness. The other day I had five grinders (two by the elevator) out at a sitting under this wonderful substance, and felt hardly anything.
My dear old friend, yours very affectionately, CHARLES DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.D. FOX. Down, January 29th .
My dear Fox,
Your last account some months ago was so little satisfactory that I have often been thinking of you, and should be really obliged if you would give me a few lines, and tell me how your voice and chest are. I most sincerely hope that your report will be good...Our second lad has a strong mechanical turn, and we think of making him an engineer. I shall try and find out for him some less classical school, perhaps Bruce Castle. I certainly should like to see more diversity in education than there is in any ordinary school—no exercising of the observing or reasoning faculties, no general knowledge acquired—I must think it a wretched system. On the other hand, a boy who has learnt to stick at Latin and conquer its difficulties, ought to be able to stick at any labour. I should always be glad to hear anything about schools or education from you. I am at my old, never-ending subject, but trust I shall really go to press in a few months with my second volume on Cirripedes. I have been much pleased by finding some odd facts in my first volume believed by Owen and a few others, whose good opinion I regard as final...Do write pretty soon, and tell me all you can about yourself and family; and I trust your report of yourself may be much better than your last.
...I have been very little in London of late, and have not seen Lyell since his return from America; how lucky he was to exhume with his own hand parts of three skeletons of reptiles out of the CARBONIFEROUS strata, and out of the inside of a fossil tree, which had been hollow within.
Farewell, my dear Fox, yours affectionately, CHARLES DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.D. FOX. 13 Sea Houses, Eastbourne, [July 15th? 1853].
My dear Fox,
Here we are in a state of profound idleness, which to me is a luxury; and we should all, I believe, have been in a state of high enjoyment, had it not been for the detestable cold gales and much rain, which always gives much ennui to children away from their homes. I received your letter of 13th June, when working like a slave with Mr. Sowerby at drawing for my second volume, and so put off answering it till when I knew I should be at leisure. I was extremely glad to get your letter. I had intended a couple of months ago sending you a savage or supplicating jobation to know how you were, when I met Sir P. Egerton, who told me you were well, and, as usual, expressed his admiration of your doings, especially your farming, and the number of animals, including children, which you kept on your land. Eleven children, ave Maria! it is a serious look-out for you. Indeed, I look at my five boys as something awful, and hate the very thoughts of professions, etc. If one could insure moderate health for them it would not signify so much, for I cannot but hope, with the enormous emigration, professions will somewhat improve. But my bugbear is hereditary weakness. I particularly like to hear all that you can say about education, and you deserve to be scolded for saying "you did not mean to TORMENT me with a long yarn." You ask about Rugby. I like it very well, on the same principle as my neighbour, Sir J. Lubbock, likes Eton, viz., that it is not worse than any other school; the expense, WITH ALL ETC., ETC., including some clothes, travelling expenses, etc., is from 110 pounds to 120 pounds per annum. I do not think schools are so wicked as they were, and far more industrious. The boys, I think, live too secluded in their separate studies; and I doubt whether they will get so much knowledge of character as boys used to do; and this, in my opinion, is the ONE good of public schools over small schools. I should think the only superiority of a small school over home was forced regularity in their work, which your boys perhaps get at your home, but which I do not believe my boys would get at my home. Otherwise, it is quite lamentable sending boys so early in life from their home.
...To return to schools. My main objection to them, as places of education, is the enormous proportion of time spent over classics. I fancy (though perhaps it is only fancy) that I can perceive the ill and contracting effect on my eldest boy's mind, in checking interest in anything in which reasoning and observation come into play. Mere memory seems to be worked. I shall certainly look out for some school with more diversified studies for my younger boys. I was talking lately to the Dean of Hereford, who takes most strongly this view; and he tells me that there is a school at Hereford commencing on this plan; and that Dr. Kennedy at Shrewsbury is going to begin vigorously to modify that school...
I am EXTREMELY glad to hear that you approved of my cirripedial volume. I have spent an almost ridiculous amount of labour on the subject, and certainly would never have undertaken it had I foreseen what a job it was. I hope to have finished by the end of the year. Do write again before a very long time; it is a real pleasure to me to hear from you. Farewell, with my wife's kindest remembrances to yourself and Mrs. Fox.
My dear old friend, yours affectionately, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO W.D. FOX. Down, August 10th .
My dear Fox,
I thank you sincerely for writing to me so soon after your most heavy misfortune. Your letter affected me so much. We both most truly sympathise with you and Mrs. Fox. We too lost, as you may remember, not so very long ago, a most dear child, of whom I can hardly yet bear to think tranquilly; yet, as you must know from your own most painful experience, time softens and deadens, in a manner truly wonderful, one's feelings and regrets. At first it is indeed bitter. I can only hope that your health and that of poor Mrs. Fox may be preserved, and that time may do its work softly, and bring you all together, once again, as the happy family, which, as I can well believe, you so lately formed.
My dear Fox, your affectionate friend, CHARLES DARWIN.
[The following letter refers to the Royal Society's Medal, which was awarded to him in November, 1853:]
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, November 5th .
My dear Hooker,
Amongst my letters received this morning, I opened first one from Colonel Sabine; the contents certainly surprised me very much, but, though the letter was a VERY KIND ONE, somehow, I cared very little indeed for the announcement it contained. I then opened yours, and such is the effect of warmth, friendship, and kindness from one that is loved, that the very same fact, told as you told it, made me glow with pleasure till my very heart throbbed. Believe me, I shall not soon forget the pleasure of your letter. Such hearty, affectionate sympathy is worth more than all the medals that ever were or will be coined. Again, my dear Hooker, I thank you. I hope Lindley (John Lindley, 1799-1865, was the son of a nurseryman near Norwich, through whose failure in business he was thrown at the age of twenty on his own resources. He was befriended by Sir W. Hooker, and employed as assistant librarian by Sir J. Banks. He seems to have had enormous capacity of work, and is said to have translated Richard's 'Analyse du Fruit' at one sitting of two days and three nights. He became Assistant- Secretary to the Horticultural Society, and in 1829 was appointed Professor of Botany at University College, a post which he held for upwards of thirty years. His writings are numerous: the best known being perhaps his 'Vegetable Kingdom,' published in 1846. His influence in helping to introduce the natural system of classification was considerable, and he brought "all the weight of his teaching and all the force of his controversial powers to support it," as against the Linnean system universally taught in the earlier part of his career. Sachs points out (Geschichte der Botanik, 1875, page 161), that though Lindley adopted in the main a sound classification of plants, he only did so by abandoning his own theoretical principle that the physiological importance of an organ is a measure of its classificatory value.) will never hear that he was a competitor against me; for really it is almost RIDICULOUS (of course you would never repeat that I said this, for it would be thought by others, though not, I believe, by you, to be affectation) his not having the medal long before me; I must feel SURE that you did quite right to propose him; and what a good, dear, kind fellow you are, nevertheless, to rejoice in this honour being bestowed on me.
What PLEASURE I have felt on the occasion, I owe almost entirely to you.
Farewell, my dear Hooker, yours affectionately, C. DARWIN.
P.S.—You may believe what a surprise it was, for I had never heard that the medals could be given except for papers in the 'Transactions.' All this will make me work with better heart at finishing the second volume.
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, February 18th .
My dear Lyell,
I should have written before, had it not seemed doubtful whether you would go on to Teneriffe, but now I am extremely glad to hear your further progress is certain; not that I have much of any sort to say, as you may well believe when you hear that I have only once been in London since you started. I was particularly glad to see, two days since, your letter to Mr. Horner, with its geological news; how fortunate for you that your knees are recovered. I am astonished at what you say of the beauty, though I had fancied it great. It really makes me quite envious to think of your clambering up and down those steep valleys. And what a pleasant party on your return from your expeditions. I often think of the delight which I felt when examining volcanic islands, and I can remember even particular rocks which I struck, and the smell of the hot, black, scoriaceous cliffs; but of those HOT smells you do not seem to have had much. I do quite envy you. How I should like to be with you, and speculate on the deep and narrow valleys.
How very singular the fact is which you mention about the inclination of the strata being greater round the circumference than in the middle of the island; do you suppose the elevation has had the form of a flat dome? I remember in the Cordillera being OFTEN struck with the greater abruptness of the strata in the LOW EXTREME outermost ranges, compared with the great mass of inner mountains. I dare say you will have thought of measuring exactly the width of any dikes at the top and bottom of any great cliff (which was done by Mr. Searle [?] at St. Helena), for it has often struck me as VERY ODD that the cracks did not die out OFTENER upwards. I can think of hardly any news to tell you, as I have seen no one since being in London, when I was delighted to see Forbes looking so well, quite big and burly. I saw at the Museum some of the surprisingly rich gold ore from North Wales. Ramsay also told me that he has lately turned a good deal of New Red Sandstone into Permian, together with the Labyrinthodon. No doubt you see newspapers, and know that E. de Beaumont is perpetual Secretary, and will, I suppose, be more powerful than ever; and Le Verrier has Arago's place in the Observatory. There was a meeting lately at the Geological Society, at which Prestwich (judging from what R. Jones told me) brought forward your exact theory, viz. that the whole red clay and flints over the chalk plateau hereabouts is the residuum from the slow dissolution of the chalk!
As regards ourselves, we have no news, and are all well. The Hookers, sometime ago, stayed a fortnight with us, and, to our extreme delight, Henslow came down, and was most quiet and comfortable here. It does one good to see so composed, benevolent, and intellectual a countenance. There have been great fears that his heart is affected; but, I hope to God, without foundation. Hooker's book (Sir J. Hooker's 'Himalayan Journal.') is out, and MOST BEAUTIFULLY got up. He has honoured me beyond measure by dedicating it to me! As for myself, I am got to the page 112 of the Barnacles, and that is the sum total of my history. By-the-way, as you care so much about North America, I may mention that I had a long letter from a shipmate in Australia, who says the Colony is getting decidedly republican from the influx of Americans, and that all the great and novel schemes for working the gold are planned and executed by these men. What a go-a-head nation it is! Give my kindest remembrances to Lady Lyell, and to Mrs. Bunbury, and to Bunbury. I most heartily wish that the Canaries may be ten times as interesting as Madeira, and that everything may go on most prosperously with your whole party.
My dear Lyell, Yours most truly and affectionately, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, March 1st .
My dear Hooker,
I finished yesterday evening the first volume, and I very sincerely congratulate you on having produced a FIRST-CLASS book ('Himalayan Journal.')—a book which certainly will last. I cannot doubt that it will take its place as a standard, not so much because it contains real solid matter, but that it gives a picture of the whole country. One can feel that one has seen it (and desperately uncomfortable I felt in going over some of the bridges and steep slopes), and one REALISES all the great Physical features. You have in truth reason to be proud; consider how few travellers there have been with a profound knowledge of one subject, and who could in addition make a map (which, by-the-way, is one of the most distinct ones I ever looked at, wherefore blessings alight on your head), and study geology and meteorology! I thought I knew you very well, but I had not the least idea that your Travels were your hobby; but I am heartily glad of it, for I feel sure that the time will never come when you and Mrs. Hooker will not be proud to look back at the labour bestowed on these beautiful volumes.
Your letter, received this morning, has interested me EXTREMELY, and I thank you sincerely for telling me your old thoughts and aspirations. All that you say makes me even more deeply gratified by the Dedication; but you, bad man, do you remember asking me how I thought Lyell would like the work to be dedicated to him? I remember how strongly I answered, and I presume you wanted to know what I should feel; whoever would have dreamed of your being so crafty? I am glad you have shown a little bit of ambition about your Journal, for you must know that I have often abused you for not caring more about fame, though, at the same time, I must confess, I have envied and honoured you for being so free (too free, as I have always thought) of this "last infirmity of, etc." Do not say, "there never was a past hitherto to me—the phantom was always in view," for you will soon find other phantoms in view. How well I know this feeling, and did formerly still more vividly; but I think my stomach has much deadened my former pure enthusiasm for science and knowledge.
I am writing an unconscionably long letter, but I must return to the Journals, about which I have hardly said anything in detail. Imprimis, the illustrations and maps appear to me the best I have ever seen; the style seems to me everywhere perfectly clear (how rare a virtue), and some passages really eloquent. How excellently you have described the upper valleys, and how detestable their climate; I felt quite anxious on the slopes of Kinchin that dreadful snowy night. Nothing has astonished me more than your physical strength; and all those devilish bridges! Well, thank goodness! It is not VERY likely that I shall ever go to the Himalaya. Much in a scientific point of view has interested me, especially all about those wonderful moraines. I certainly think I quite realise the valleys, more vividly perhaps from having seen the valleys of Tahiti. I cannot doubt that the Himalaya owe almost all their contour to running water, and that they have been subjected to such action longer than any mountains (as yet described) in the world. What a contrast with the Andes!
Perhaps you would like to hear the very little that I can say per contra, and this only applied to the beginning, in which (as it struck me) there was not FLOW enough till you get to Mirzapore on the Ganges (but the Thugs were MOST interesting), where the stream seemed to carry you on more equably with longer sentences and longer facts and discussions, etc. In another edition (and I am delighted to hear that Murray has sold all off), I would consider whether this part could not be condensed. Even if the meteorology was put in foot-notes, I think it would be an improvement. All the world is against me, but it makes me very unhappy to see the Latin names all in Italics, and all mingled with English names in Roman type; but I must bear this burden, for all men of Science seem to think it would corrupt the Latin to dress it up in the same type as poor old English. Well, I am very proud of MY book; but there is one bore, that I do not much like asking people whether they have seen it, and how they like it, for I feel so much identified with it, that such questions become rather personal. Hence, I cannot tell you the opinion of others. You will have seen a fairly good review in the 'Athenaeum.'
What capital news from Tasmania: it really is a very remarkable and creditable fact to the Colony. (This refers to an unsolicited grant by the Colonial Government towards the expenses of Sir J. Hooker's 'Flora of Tasmania.') I am always building veritable castles in the air about emigrating, and Tasmania has been my head-quarters of late; so that I feel very proud of my adopted country: is really a very singular and delightful fact, contrasted with the slight appreciation of science in the old country. I thank you heartily for your letter this morning, and for all the gratification your Dedication has given me; I could not help thinking how much — would despise you for not having dedicated it to some great man, who would have done you and it some good in the eyes of the world. Ah, my dear Hooker, you were very soft on this head, and justify what I say about not caring enough for your own fame. I wish I was in every way more worthy of your good opinion. Farewell. How pleasantly Mrs. Hooker and you must rest from one of your many labours...
Again farewell: I have written a wonderfully long letter. Adios, and God bless you.
My dear Hooker, ever yours, C. DARWIN.
P.S.—I have just looked over my rambling letter; I see that I have not at all expressed my strong admiration at the amount of scientific work, in so many branches, which you have effected. It is really grand. You have a right to rest on your oars; or even to say, if it so pleases you, that "your meridian is past;" but well assured do I feel that the day of your reputation and general recognition has only just begun to dawn.
[In September, 1854, his Cirripede work was practically finished, and he wrote to Dr. Hooker:
"I have been frittering away my time for the last several weeks in a wearisome manner, partly idleness, and odds and ends, and sending ten thousand Barnacles out of the house all over the world. But I shall now in a day or two begin to look over my old notes on species. What a deal I shall have to discuss with you; I shall have to look sharp that I do not 'progress' into one of the greatest bores in life, to the few like you with lots of knowledge."]
THE GROWTH OF THE 'ORIGIN OF SPECIES.'
[The growth of the 'Origin of Species' has been briefly described in my father's words (above). The letters given in the present and following chapters will illustrate and amplify the history thus sketched out.
It is clear that in the early part of the voyage of the "Beagle" he did not feel it inconsistent with his views to express himself in thoroughly orthodox language as to the genesis of new species. Thus in 1834 he wrote (MS. Journals, page 468.) at Valparaiso: "I have already found beds of recent shells yet retaining their colour at an elevation of 1300 feet, and beneath, the level country is strewn with them. It seems not a very improbable conjecture that the want of animals may be owing to none having been created since this country was raised from the sea."
This passage does not occur in the published 'Journal,' the last proof of which was finished in 1837; and this fact harmonizes with the change we know to have been proceeding in his views. But in the published 'Journal' we find passages which show a point of view more in accordance with orthodox theological natural history than with his later views. Thus, in speaking of the birds Synallaxis and Scytalopus (1st edition page 353; 2nd edition page 289), he says: "When finding, as in this case, any animal which seems to play so insignificant a part in the great scheme of nature, one is apt to wonder why a distinct species should have been created."
A comparison of the two editions of the 'Journal' is instructive, as giving some idea of the development of his views on evolution. It does not give us a true index of the mass of conjecture which was taking shape in his mind, but it shows us that he felt sure enough of the truth of his belief to allow a stronger tinge of evolution to appear in the second edition. He has mentioned in the Autobiography that it was not until he read Malthus that he got a clear view of the potency of natural selection. This was in 1838—a year after he finished the first edition (it was not published until 1839), and five years before the second edition was written (1845). Thus the turning-point in the formation of his theory took place between the writing of the two editions.
I will first give a few passages which are practically the same in the two editions, and which are, therefore, chiefly of interest as illustrating his frame of mind in 1837.
The case of the two species of Molothrus (1st edition page 61; 2nd edition page 53) must have been one of the earliest instances noticed by him of the existence of representative species—a phenomenon which we know ('Autobiography,') struck him deeply. The discussion on introduced animals (1st edition page 139; 2nd edition page 120) shows how much he was impressed by the complicated interdependence of the inhabitants of a given area.
An analogous point of view is given in the discussion (1st edition page 98; 2nd edition page 85) of the mistaken belief that large animals require, for their support, a luxuriant vegetation; the incorrectness of this view is illustrated by the comparison of the fauna of South Africa and South America, and the vegetation of the two continents. The interest of the discussion is that it shows clearly our a priori ignorance of the conditions of life suitable to any organism.
There is a passage which has been more than once quoted as bearing on the origin of his views. It is where he discusses the striking difference between the species of mice on the east and west of the Andes (1st edition page 399): "Unless we suppose the same species to have been created in two different countries, we ought not to expect any closer similarity between the organic beings on the opposite sides of the Andes than on shores separated by a broad strait of the sea." In the 2nd edition page 327, the passage is almost verbally identical, and is practically the same.
There are other passages again which are more strongly evolutionary in the 2nd edition, but otherwise are similar to the corresponding passages in the 1st edition. Thus, in describing the blind Tuco-tuco (1st edition page 60; 2nd edition page 52), in the first edition he makes no allusion to what Lamarck might have thought, nor is the instance used as an example of modification, as in the edition of 1845.
A striking passage occurs in the 2nd edition (page 173) on the relationship between the "extinct edentata and the living sloths, ant-eaters, and armadillos."
"This wonderful relationship in the same continent between the dead and the living, will, I do not doubt, hereafter throw more light on the appearance of organic beings on our earth, and their disappearance from it, than any other class of facts."
This sentence does not occur in the 1st edition, but he was evidently profoundly struck by the disappearance of the gigantic forerunners of the present animals. The difference between the discussions in the two editions is most instructive. In both, our ignorance of the conditions of life is insisted on, but in the second edition, the discussion is made to led up to a strong statement of the intensity of the struggle for life. Then follows a comparison between rarity (In the second edition, page 146, the destruction of Niata cattle by droughts is given as a good example of our ignorance of the causes of rarity or extinction. The passage does not occur in the first edition.) and extinction, which introduces the idea that the preservation and dominance of existing species depend on the degree in which they are adapted to surrounding conditions. In the first edition, he is merely "tempted to believe in such simple relations as variation of climate and food, or introduction of enemies, or the increased number of other species, as the cause of the succession of races." But finally (1st edition) he ends the chapter by comparing the extinction of a species to the exhaustion and disappearance of varieties of fruit-trees: as if he thought that a mysterious term of life was impressed on each species at its creation.
The difference of treatment of the Galapagos problem is of some interest. In the earlier book, the American type of the productions of the islands is noticed, as is the fact that the different islands possess forms specially their own, but the importance of the whole problem is not so strongly put forward. Thus, in the first edition, he merely says:—
"This similarity of type between distant islands and continents, while the species are distinct, has scarcely been sufficiently noticed. The circumstance would be explained, according to the views of some authors, by saying that the creative power had acted according to the same law over a wide area."—(1st edition page 474.)
This passage is not given in the second edition, and the generalisations on geographical distribution are much wider and fuller. Thus he asks:—
"Why were their aboriginal inhabitants, associated...in different proportions both in kind and number from those on the Continent, and therefore acting on each other in a different manner—why were they created on American types of organisation?"—(2nd edition page 393.)
The same difference of treatment is shown elsewhere in this chapter. Thus the gradation in the form of beak presented by the thirteen allied species of finch is described in the first edition (page 461) without comment. Whereas in the second edition (page 380) he concludes:—
"One might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this Archipelago, one species has been taken and modified for different ends."
On the whole it seems to me remarkable that the difference between the two editions is not greater; it is another proof of the author's caution and self-restraint in the treatment of his theory. After reading the second edition of the 'Journal,' we find with a strong sense of surprise how far developed were his views in 1837. We are enabled to form an opinion on this point from the note-books in which he wrote down detached thoughts and queries. I shall quote from the first note-book, completed between July 1837 and February 1838: and this is the more worth doing, as it gives us an insight into the condition of his thoughts before the reading of Malthus. The notes are written in his most hurried style, so many words being omitted, that it is often difficult to arrive at the meaning. With a few exceptions (indicated by square brackets) (In the extracts from the note-book ordinary brackets represent my father's parentheses.) I have printed the extracts as written; the punctuation, however, has been altered, and a few obvious slips corrected where it seemed necessary. The extracts are not printed in order, but are roughly classified. (On the first page of the note-book, is written "Zoonomia"; this seems to refer to the first few pages in which reproduction by gemmation is discussed, and where the "Zoonomia" is mentioned. Many pages have been cut out of the note-book, probably for use in writing the Sketch of 1844, and these would have no doubt contained the most interesting extracts.)
"Propagation explains why modern animals same type as extinct, which is law, almost proved."
"We can see why structure is common in certain countries when we can hardly believe necessary, but if it was necessary to one forefather, the result would be as it is. Hence antelopes at Cape of Good Hope; marsupials at Australia."
"Countries longest separated greatest differences—if separated from immersage, possibly two distinct types, but each having its representatives—as in Australia."
"Will this apply to whole organic kingdom when our planet first cooled?"
The two following extracts show that he applied the theory of evolution to the "whole organic kingdom" from plants to man.
"If we choose to let conjecture run wild, then animals, our fellow brethren in pain, disease, death, suffering and famine—our slaves in the most laborious works, our companions in our amusements—they may partake [of?] our origin in one common ancestor—we may be all melted together."
"The different intellects of man and animals not so great as between living things without thought (plants), and living things with thought (animals)."
The following extracts are again concerned with an a priori view of the probability of the origin of species by descent ["propagation," he called it.].
"The tree of life should perhaps be called the coral of life, base of branches dead; so that passages cannot be seen."
"There never may have been grade between pig and tapir, yet from some common progenitor. Now if the intermediate ranks had produced infinite species, probably the series would have been more perfect."
At another place, speaking of intermediate forms he says:—
"Cuvier objects to propagation of species by saying, why have not some intermediate forms been discovered between Palaeotherium, Megalonyx, Mastodon, and the species now living? Now according to my view (in S. America) parent of all Armadilloes might be brother to Megatherium—uncle now dead."
Speaking elsewhere of intermediate forms, he remarks:—
"Opponents will say—'show them me.' I will answer yes, if you will show me every step between bulldog and greyhound."
Here we see that the case of domestic animals was already present in his mind as bearing on the production of natural species. The disappearance of intermediate forms naturally leads up to the subject of extinction, with which the next extract begins.
"It is a wonderful fact, horse, elephant, and mastodon, dying out about same time in such different quarters.
"Will Mr. Lyell say that some [same?] circumstance killed it over a tract from Spain to South America?—(Never).
"They die, without they change, like golden pippins; it is a GENERATION OF SPECIES like generation OF INDIVIDUALS.
"Why does individual die? To perpetuate certain peculiarities (therefore adaptation), and obliterate accidental varieties, and to accommodate itself to change (for, of course, change, even in varieties, is accommodation). Now this argument applies to species.
"If individual cannot propagate he has no issue—so with species.
"If SPECIES generate other SPECIES, their race is not utterly cut off:— like golden pippins, if produced by seed, go on—otherwise all die.
"The fossil horse generated, in South Africa, zebra—and continued— perished in America.
"All animals of same species are bound together just like buds of plants, which die at one time, though produced either sooner or later. Prove animals like plants—trace gradation between associated and non-associated animals—and the story will be complete."
Here we have the view already alluded to of a term of life impressed on a species.
But in the following note we get extinction connected with unfavourable variation, and thus a hint is given of natural selection:
"With respect to extinction, we can easily see that [a] variety of [the] ostrich (Petise), may not be well adapted, and thus perish out; or, on the other hand, like Orpheus [a Galapagos bird], being favourable, many might be produced. This requires [the] principle that the permanent variations produced by confined breeding and changing circumstances are continued and produced according to the adaptation of such circumstance, and therefore that death of species is a consequence (contrary to what would appear from America) of non-adaptation of circumstances."
The first part of the next extract has a similar bearing. The end of the passage is of much interest, as showing that he had at this early date visions of the far-reaching character of the theory of evolution:—
"With belief of transmutation and geographical grouping, we are lead to endeavour to discover CAUSES of change; the manner of adaptation (wish of parents??), instinct and structure becomes full of speculation and lines of observation. View of generation being condensation (I imagine him to mean that each generation is "condensed" to a small number of the best organized individuals.) test of highest organisation intelligible...My theory would give zest to recent and fossil comparative anatomy; it would lead to the study of instincts, heredity, and mind-heredity, whole [of] metaphysics.
"It would lead to closest examination of hybridity and generation, causes of change in order to know what we have come from and to what we tend—to what circumstances favour crossing and what prevents it—this, and direct examination of direct passages of structure in species, might lead to laws of change, which would then be [the] main object of study, to guide our speculations."
The following two extracts have a similar interest; the second is especially interesting, as it contains the germ of concluding sentence of the 'Origin of Species': ('Origin of Species' (1st edition), page 490:— "There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.")—
"Before the attraction of gravity discovered it might have been said it was as great a difficulty to account for the movement of all [planets] by one law, as to account for each separate one; so to say that all mammalia were born from one stock, and since distributed by such means as we can recognise, may be thought to explain nothing.
"Astronomers might formerly have said that God fore-ordered each planet to move in its particular destiny. In the same manner God orders each animal created with certain forms in certain countries, but how much more simple and sublime [a] power—let attraction act according to certain law, such are inevitable consequences—let animals be created, then by the fixed laws of generation, such will be their successors.
"Let the powers of transportal be such, and so will be the forms of one country to another—let geological changes go at such a rate, so will be the number and distribution of the species!!"
The three next extracts are of miscellaneous interest:—
"When one sees nipple on man's breast, one does not say some use, but sex not having been determined—so with useless wings under elytra of beetles— born from beetles with wings, and modified—if simple creation merely, would have been born without them."
"In a decreasing population at any one moment fewer closely related (few species of genera); ultimately few genera (for otherwise the relationship would converge sooner), and lastly, perhaps, some one single one. Will not this account for the odd genera with few species which stand between great groups, which we are bound to consider the increasing ones?"
The last extract which I shall quote gives the germ of his theory of the relation between alpine plants in various parts of the world, in the publication of which he was forestalled by E. Forbes (see volume i. page 72). He says, in the 1837 note-book, that alpine plants, "formerly descended lower, therefore [they are] species of lower genera altered, or northern plants."
When we turn to the Sketch of his theory, written in 1844 (still therefore before the second edition of the 'Journal' was completed), we find an enormous advance made on the note-book of 1837. The Sketch is an fact a surprisingly complete presentation of the argument afterwards familiar to us in the 'Origin of Species.' There is some obscurity as to the date of the short Sketch which formed the basis of the 1844 Essay. We know from his own words (volume i., page 68), that it was in June 1842 that he first wrote out a short sketch of his views. (This version I cannot find, and it was probably destroyed, like so much of his MS., after it had been enlarged and re-copied in 1844.) This statement is given with so much circumstance that it is almost impossible to suppose that it contains an error of date. It agrees also with the following extract from his Diary.
1842. May 18th. Went to Maer.
"June 15th to Shrewsbury, and on 18th to Capel Curig. During my stay at Maer and Shrewsbury (five years after commencement) wrote pencil-sketch of species theory."
Again in the introduction to the 'Origin,' page 1, he writes, "after an interval of five years' work" [from 1837, i.e. in 1842], "I allowed myself to speculate on the subject, and drew up some short notes."
Nevertheless in the letter signed by Sir C. Lyell and Sir J.D. Hooker, which serves as an introduction to the joint paper of Messrs. C. Darwin and A. Wallace on the 'Tendency of Species to form Varieties,' ('Linn. Soc. Journal,' 1858, page 45.) the essay of 1844 (extracts from which form part of the paper) is said to have been "sketched in 1839, and copied in 1844." This statement is obviously made on the authority of a note written in my father's hand across the Table of Contents of the 1844 Essay. It is to the following effect: "This was sketched in 1839, and copied out in full, as here written and read by you in 1844." I conclude that this note was added in 1858, when the MS. was sent to Sir J.D. Hooker (see Letter of June 29, 1858, page 476). There is also some further evidence on this side of the question. Writing to Mr. Wallace (January 25, 1859) my father says:— "Every one whom I have seen has thought your paper very well written and interesting. It puts my extracts (written in 1839, now just twenty years ago!), which I must say in apology were never for an instant intended for publication; into the shade." The statement that the earliest sketch was written in 1839 has been frequently made in biographical notices of my father, no doubt on the authority of the 'Linnean Journal,' but it must, I think, be considered as erroneous. The error may possibly have arisen in this way. In writing on the Table of Contents of the 1844 MS. that it was sketched in 1839, I think my father may have intended to imply that the framework of the theory was clearly thought out by him at that date. In the Autobiography he speaks of the time, "about 1839, when the theory was clearly conceived," meaning, no doubt, the end of 1838 and beginning of 1839, when the reading of Malthus had given him the key to the idea of natural selection. But this explanation does not apply to the letter to Mr. Wallace; and with regard to the passage (My father certainly saw the proofs of the paper, for he added a foot-note apologising for the style of the extracts, on the ground that the "work was never intended for publication.") in the 'Linnean Journal' it is difficult to understand how it should have been allowed to remain as it now stands, conveying, as it clearly does, the impression that 1839 was the date of his earliest written sketch.
The sketch of 1844 is written in a clerk's hand, in two hundred and thirty- one pages folio, blank leaves being alternated with the MS. with a view to amplification. The text has been revised and corrected, criticisms being pencilled by himself on the margin. It is divided into two parts: I. "On the variation of Organic Beings under Domestication and in their Natural State." II. "On the Evidence favourable and opposed to the view that Species are naturally formed races descended from common Stocks." The first part contains the main argument of the 'Origin of Species.' It is founded, as is the argument of that work, on the study of domestic animals, and both the Sketch and the 'Origin' open with a chapter on variation under domestication and on artificial selection. This is followed, in both essays, by discussions on variation under nature, on natural selection, and on the struggle for life. Here, any close resemblance between the two essays with regard to arrangement ceases. Chapter III. of the Sketch, which concludes the first part, treats of the variations which occur in the instincts and habits of animals, and thus corresponds to some extent with Chapter VII. of the 'Origin' (1st edition). It thus forms a complement to the chapters which deal with variation in structure. It seems to have been placed thus early in the Essay to prevent the hasty rejection of the whole theory by a reader to whom the idea of natural selection acting on instincts might seem impossible. This is the more probable, as the Chapter on Instinct in the 'Origin' is specially mentioned (Introduction, page 5) as one of the "most apparent and gravest difficulties on the theory." Moreover the chapter in the Sketch ends with a discussion, "whether any particular corporeal structures...are so wonderful as to justify the rejection prima facie of our theory." Under this heading comes the discussion of the eye, which in the 'Origin' finds its place in Chapter VI. under "Difficulties of the Theory." The second part seems to have been planned in accordance with his favourite point of view with regard to his theory. This is briefly given in a letter to Dr. Asa Gray, November 11th, 1859: "I cannot possibly believe that a false theory would explain so many classes of facts, as I think it certainly does explain. On these grounds I drop my anchor, and believe that the difficulties will slowly disappear." On this principle, having stated the theory in the first part, he proceeds to show to what extent various wide series of facts can be explained by its means.