(98/1. The reference here is to the review on the "Origin of Species" generally believed to be by the late Sir R. Owen, and published in the April number of the "Edinburgh Review," 1860. Owen's biographer is silent on the subject, and prints, without comment, the following passage in an undated letter from Sedgwick to Owen: "Do you know who was the author of the article in the "Edinburgh" on the subject of Darwin's theory? On the whole, I think it very good. I once suspected that you must have had a hand in it, and I then abandoned that thought. I have not read it with any care" (Owen's "Life," Volume II., page 96).
April 9th .
I never saw such an amount of misrepresentation. At page 530 (98/2. "Lasting and fruitful conclusions have, indeed, hitherto been based only on the possession of knowledge; now we are called upon to accept an hypothesis on the plea of want of knowledge. The geological record, it is averred, is so imperfect!"--"Edinburgh Review," CXI., 1860, page 530.) he says we are called on to accept the hypothesis on the plea of ignorance, whereas I think I could not have made it clearer that I admit the imperfection of the Geological Record as a great difficulty.
The quotation (98/3. "We are appealed to, or at least 'the young and rising naturalists with plastic minds,* [On the Nature of the Limbs, page 482] are adjured." It will be seen that the inverted comma after "naturalists" is omitted; the asterisk referring, in a footnote (here placed in square brackets), to page 482 of the "Origin," seems to have been incorrectly assumed by Mr. Darwin to show the close of the quotation.--Ibid., page 512.) on page 512 of the "Review" about "young and rising naturalists with plastic minds," attributed to "nature of limbs," is a false quotation, as I do not use the words "plastic minds."
At page 501 (98/4. The passage ("Origin," Edition I., page 483) begins, "But do they really believe...," and shows clearly that the author considers such a belief all but impossible.) the quotation is garbled, for I only ask whether naturalists believe about elemental atoms flashing, etc., and he changes it into that I state that they do believe.
At page 500 (98/5. "All who have brought the transmutation speculation to the test of observed facts and ascertained powers in organic life, and have published the results, usually adverse to such speculations, are set down by Mr. Darwin as 'curiously illustrating the blindness of preconceived opinion.'" The passage in the "Origin," page 482, begins by expressing surprise at the point of view of some naturalists: "They admit that a multitude of forms, which till lately they themselves thought were special creations,...have been produced by variation, but they refuse to extend the same view to other and very slightly different forms...They admit variation as a vera causa in one case, they arbitrarily reject it in another, without assigning any distinction in the two cases. The day will come when this will be given as a curious illustration of the blindness of preconceived opinion.") it is very false to say that I imply by "blindness of preconceived opinion" the simple belief of creation. And so on in other cases. But I beg pardon for troubling you. I am heartily sorry that in your unselfish endeavours to spread what you believe to be truth, you should have incurred so brutal an attack. (98/6. The "Edinburgh" Reviewer, referring to Huxley's Royal Institution Lecture given February 10th, 1860, "On Species and Races and their Origin," says (page 521), "We gazed with amazement at the audacity of the dispenser of the hour's intellectual amusement, who, availing himself of the technical ignorance of the majority of his auditors, sought to blind them as to the frail foundations of 'natural selection' by such illustrations as the subjoined": And then follows a critique of the lecturer's comparison of the supposed descent of the horse from the Palaeothere with that of various kinds of domestic pigeons from the Rock-pigeon.) And now I will not think any more of this false and malignant attack.
LETTER 99. TO MAXWELL MASTERS. Down, April 13 th .
I thank you very sincerely for your two kind notes. The next time you write to your father I beg you to give him from me my best thanks, but I am sorry that he should have had the trouble of writing when ill. I have been much interested by the facts given by him. If you think he would in the least care to hear the result of an artificial cross of two sweet peas, you can send the enclosed; if it will only trouble him, tear it up. There seems to be so much parallelism in the kind of variation from my experiment, which was certainly a cross, and what Mr. Masters has observed, that I cannot help suspecting that his peas were crossed by bees, which I have seen well dusted with the pollen of the sweet pea; but then I wish this, and how hard it is to prevent one's wish biassing one's judgment!
I was struck with your remark about the Compositae, etc. I do not see that it bears much against me, and whether it does or not is of course of not the slightest importance. Although I fully agree that no definition can be drawn between monstrosities and slight variations (such as my theory requires), yet I suspect there is some distinction. Some facts lead me to think that monstrosities supervene generally at an early age; and after attending to the subject I have great doubts whether species in a state of nature ever become modified by such sudden jumps as would result from the Natural Selection of monstrosities. You cannot do me a greater service than by pointing out errors. I sincerely hope that your work on monstrosities (99/1. "Vegetable Teratology," London, 1869 (Ray Soc.).)
will soon appear, for I am sure it will be highly instructive. Now for your notes, for which let me again thank you.
1. Your conclusion about parts developed (99/2. See "Origin of Species," Edition I., page 153, on the variability of parts "developed in an extraordinary manner in any one species, compared with the other species of the same genus." See "Life and Letters," II., pages 97, 98, also Letter
33.) not being extra variable agrees with Hooker's. You will see that I have stated that the rule apparently does not hold with plants, though it ought, if true, to hold good with them.
2. I cannot now remember in what work I saw the statement about Peloria affecting the axis, but I know it was one which I thought might be trusted.
I consulted also Dr. Falconer, and I think that he agreed to the truth of it; but I cannot now tell where to look for my notes. I had been much struck with finding a Laburnum tree with the terminal flowers alone in each raceme peloric, though not perfectly regular. The Pelargonium case in the "Origin" seems to point in the same direction. (99/3. "Origin of Species," Edition I., page 145.)
3. Thanks for the correction about furze: I found the seedlings just sprouting, and was so much surprised and their appearance that I sent them to Hooker; but I never plainly asked myself whether they were cotyledons or first leaves. (99/4. The trifoliate leaves of furze seedlings are not cotyledons, but early leaves: see Lubbock's "Seedlings," I., page 410.)
4. That is a curious fact about the seeds of the furze, the more curious as I found with Leguminosae that immersion in plain cold water for a very few days killed some kinds.
If at any time anything should occur to you illustrating or opposing my notions, and you have leisure to inform me, I should be truly grateful, for I can plainly see that you have wealth of knowledge.
With respect to advancement or retrogression in organisation in monstrosities of the Compositae, etc., do you not find it very difficult to define which is which?
Anyhow, most botanists seem to differ as widely as possible on this head.
Very many thanks about the Elodea, which case interests me much. I wrote to Mr. Marshall (100/1. W. Marshall was the author of "Anacharis alsinastrum, a new water-weed": four letters to the "Cambridge Independent Press," reprinted as a pamphlet, 1852.) at Ely, and in due time he says he will send me whatever information he can procure.
Owen is indeed very spiteful. (100/2. Owen was believed to be the author of the article in the "Edinburgh Review," April, 1860. See Letter 98.) He misrepresents and alters what I say very unfairly. But I think his conduct towards Hooker most ungenerous: viz., to allude to his essay (Australian Flora), and not to notice the magnificent results on geographical distribution. The Londoners say he is mad with envy because my book has been talked about; what a strange man to be envious of a naturalist like myself, immeasurably his inferior! From one conversation with him I really suspect he goes at the bottom of his hidden soul as far as I do.
I wonder whether Sedgwick noticed in the "Edinburgh Review" about the "Sacerdotal revilers,"--so the revilers are tearing each other to pieces. I suppose Sedgwick will be very fierce against me at the Philosophical Society. (100/3. The meeting of the "Cambridge Phil. Soc." was held on May 7th, 1860, and fully reported in the "Cambridge Chronicle," May 19th. Sedgwick is reported to have said that "Darwin's theory is not inductive--is not based on a series of acknowledged facts, leading to a general conclusion evolved, logically out of the facts...The only facts he pretends to adduce, as true elements of proof, are the varieties produced by domestication and the artifices of crossbreeding." Sedgwick went on to speak of the vexatious multiplication of supposed species, and adds, "In this respect Darwin's theory may help to simplify our classifications, and thereby do good service to modern science. But he has not undermined any grand truth in the constancy of natural laws, and the continuity of true species.") Judging from his notice in the "Spectator," (100/4. March 24th, 1860; see "Life and Letters," II., page 297.) he will misrepresent me, but it will certainly be unintentionally done. In a letter to me, and in the above notice, he talks much about my departing from the spirit of inductive philosophy. I wish, if you ever talk on the subject to him, you would ask him whether it was not allowable (and a great step) to invent the undulatory theory of light, i.e. hypothetical undulations, in a hypothetical substance, the ether. And if this be so, why may I not invent the hypothesis of Natural Selection (which from the analogy of domestic productions, and from what we know of the struggle for existence and of the variability of organic beings, is, in some very slight degree, in itself probable) and try whether this hypothesis of Natural Selection does not explain (as I think it does) a large number of facts in geographical distribution--geological succession, classification, morphology, embryology, etc. I should really much like to know why such an hypothesis as the undulation of the ether may be invented, and why I may not invent (not that I did invent it, for I was led to it by studying domestic varieties) any hypothesis, such as Natural Selection.
Pray forgive me and my pen for running away with me, and scribbling on at such length.
I can perfectly understand Sedgwick (100/5. See "Life and Letters," II., page 247; the letter is there dated December 24th, but must, we think, have been written in November at latest.) or any one saying that Natural Selection does not explain large classes of facts; but that is very different from saying that I depart from right principles of scientific investigation.
LETTER 101. TO J.S. HENSLOW. Down, May 14th .
I have been greatly interested by your letter to Hooker, and I must thank you from my heart for so generously defending me, as far as you could, against my powerful attackers. Nothing which persons say hurts me for long, for I have an entire conviction that I have not been influenced by bad feelings in the conclusions at which I have arrived. Nor have I published my conclusions without long deliberation, and they were arrived at after far more study than the public will ever know of, or believe in. I am certain to have erred in many points, but I do not believe so much as Sedgwick and Co. think.
Is there any Abstract or Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society published? (101/1. Henslow's remarks are not given in the above-mentioned report in the "Cambridge Chronicle.") If so, and you could get me a copy, I should like to have one.
Believe me, my dear Henslow, I feel grateful to you on this occasion, and for the multitude of kindnesses you have done me from my earliest days at Cambridge.
Hooker has sent me a letter of Thwaites (102/1. See Letter 97.), of Ceylon, who makes exactly the same objections which you did at first about the necessity of all forms advancing, and therefore the difficulty of simple forms still existing. There was no worse omission than this in my book, and I had the discussion all ready.
I am extremely glad to hear that you intend adding new arguments about the imperfection of the Geological Record. I always feel this acutely, and am surprised that such men as Ramsay and Jukes do not feel it more.
I quite agree on insufficient evidence about mummy wheat. (102/2. See notes appended to a letter to Lyell, September 1843 (Botany).
When you can spare it, I should like (but out of mere curiosity) to see Binney on Coal marine marshes.
I once made Hooker very savage by saying that I believed the Coal plants grew in the sea, like mangroves. (102/3. See "Life and Letters," I., page 356.)
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