Letter 76 To Th Huxley

(76/1. The date of this letter is unfortunately doubtful, otherwise it would prove that at an early date he was acquainted with Erasmus Darwin's views on evolution, a fact which has not always been recognised. We can hardly doubt that it was written in 1859, for at this time Mr. Huxley was collecting facts about breeding for his lecture given at the Royal Institution on February 10th, 1860, on "Species and Races and their Origin." See "Life and Letters," II., page 281.)

If on the 11th you have half an hour to spare, you might like to see a very good show of pigeons, and the enclosed card will admit you.

The history of error is quite unimportant, but it is curious to observe how exactly and accurately my grandfather (in "Zoonomia," Volume I., page 504, 1794) gives Lamarck's theory. I will quote one sentence. Speaking of birds' beaks, he says: "All which seem to have been gradually produced during many generations by the perpetual endeavour of the creatures to supply the want of food, and to have been delivered to their posterity with constant improvement of them for the purposes required." Lamarck published "Hist. Zoolog." in 1809. The "Zoonomia" was translated into many languages.

It is not worth while troubling you, but my conscience is uneasy at having forgotten to thank you for your "Etna" (77/1. "On the Structure of Lavas which have been consolidated on Steep Slopes, with remarks on the Mode of Origin of Mount Etna, and on the Theory of 'Craters of Elevation'" ("Phil. Trans. R. Soc." Volume CXLVIII., 1858, page 703).), which seems to me a magnificent contribution to volcanic geology, and I should think you might now rest on your oars in this department.

As soon as ever I can get a copy of my book (77/2. "The Origin of Species," London, 1859.) ready, in some six weeks' or two months' time, it shall be sent you; and if you approve of it, even to a moderate extent, it will be the highest satisfaction which I shall ever receive for an amount of labour which no one will ever appreciate.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment