LETTER 124. TO F.W. HUTTON. Down, April 20th .
I hope that you will permit me to thank you for sending me a copy of your paper in "The Geologist" (124/1. In a letter to Hooker (April 23rd?, 1861) Darwin refers to Hutton's review as "very original," and adds that Hutton is "one of the very few who see that the change of species cannot be directly proved..." ("Life and Letters," II., page 362). The review appeared in "The Geologist" (afterwards known as "The Geological Magazine") for 1861, pages 132-6 and 183-8. A letter on "Difficulties of Darwinism" is published in the same volume of "The Geologist," page 286.), and at the same time to express my opinion that you have done the subject a real service by the highly original, striking, and condensed manner with which you have put the case. I am actually weary of telling people that I do not pretend to adduce direct evidence of one species changing into another, but that I believe that this view in the main is correct, because so many phenomena can be thus grouped together and explained. But it is generally of no use; I cannot make persons see this. I generally throw in their teeth the universally admitted theory of the undulation of light,--neither the undulation nor the very existence of ether being proved, yet admitted because the view explains so much. You are one of the very few who have seen this, and have now put it most forcibly and clearly. I am much pleased to see how carefully you have read my book, and, what is far more important, reflected on so many points with an independent spirit. As I am deeply interested in the subject (and I hope not exclusively under a personal point of view) I could not resist venturing to thank you for the right good service which you have done.
I need hardly say that this note requires no answer.
(125/1. Parts of this letter are published in "Life and Letters," II., page 362.)
I have been much interested by Bentham's paper in the "Natural History Review," but it would not, of course, from familiarity, strike you as it did me. (125/2. This refers to Bentham's paper "On the Species and Genera of Plants, etc." "Nat. Hist. Review," April, 1861, page 133, which is founded on, or extracted from, a paper read before the Linn. Soc., November 15th, 1858. It had been originally set down to be read on July 1st, 1858, but gave way to the papers of Darwin and Wallace. Mr. Bentham has described ("Life and Letters," II., page 294) how he reluctantly cancelled the parts urging "original fixity" of specific type, and the remainder seems not to have been published except in the above-quoted paper in the "Nat. Hist. Review.") I liked the whole--all the facts on the nature of close and varying species. Good Heavens! to think of the British botanists turning up their noses and saying that he knows nothing of British plants! I was also pleased at his remarks on classification, because it showed me that I wrote truly on this subject in the "Origin." I saw Bentham at the Linnean Society, and had some talk with him and Lubbock and Edgeworth, Wallich, and several others. I asked Bentham to give us his ideas of species; whether partially with us or dead against us, he would write excellent matter. He made no answer, but his manner made me think he might do so if urged--so do you attack him. Every one was speaking with affection and anxiety of Henslow. I dined with Bell at the Linnean Club, and liked my dinner...dining-out is such a novelty to me that I enjoyed it. Bell has a real good heart. I liked Rolleston's paper, but I never read anything so obscure and not self-evident as his "canons." (125/3. See "Nat. Hist. Review," 1861, page 206. The paper is "On the Brain of the Orang Utang," and forms part of the bitter controversy of this period to which reference occurs in letters to Huxley and elsewhere in these volumes. Rolleston's work is quoted by Huxley ("Man's Place in Nature," page 117) as part of the crushing refutation of Owen's position. Mr. Huxley's letter referred to above is no doubt that in the "Athenaeum," April 13th, 1861, page 498; it is certainly severe, but to those who know Mr. Huxley's "Succinct History of the Controversy," etc. ("Man's Place in Nature," page 113), it will not seem too severe.) I had a dim perception of the truth of your profound remark--that he wrote in fear and trembling "of God, man, and monkeys," but I would alter it into "God, man, Owen, and monkeys." Huxley's letter was truculent, and I see that every one thinks it too truculent; but in simple truth I am become quite demoniacal about Owen-- worse than Huxley; and I told Huxley that I should put myself under his care to be rendered milder. But I mean to try and get more angelic in my feelings; yet I never shall forget his cordial shake of the hand, when he was writing as spitefully as he possibly could against me. But I have always thought that you have more cause than I to be demoniacally inclined towards him. Bell told me that Owen says that the editor mutilated his article in the "Edinburgh Review" (125/4. This is the only instance, with which we are acquainted, of Owen's acknowledging the authorship of the "Edinburgh Review" article.), and Bell seemed to think it was rendered more spiteful by the Editor; perhaps the opposite view is as probable. Oh, dear! this does not look like becoming more angelic in my temper!
I had a splendid long talk with Lyell (you may guess how splendid, for he was many times on his knees, with elbows on the sofa) (125/5. Mr. Darwin often spoke of Sir Charles Lyell's tendency to take curious attitudes when excited.) on his work in France: he seems to have done capital work in making out the age of the celt-bearing beds, but the case gets more and more complicated. All, however, tends to greater and greater antiquity of man. The shingle beds seem to be estuary deposits. I called on R. Chambers at his very nice house in St. John's Wood, and had a very pleasant half-hour's talk--he is really a capital fellow. He made one good remark and chuckled over it: that the laymen universally had treated the controversy on the "Essays and Reviews" as a merely professional subject, and had not joined in it but had left it to the clergy. I shall be anxious for your next letter about Henslow. Farewell, with sincere sympathy, my old friend.
P.S.--We are very much obliged for "London Review." We like reading much of it, and the science is incomparably better than in the "Athenaeum." You shall not go on very long sending it, as you will be ruined by pennies and trouble; but I am under a horrid spell to the "Athenaeum" and "Gardeners' Chronicle," both of which are intolerably dull, but I have taken them in for so many years that I cannot give them up. The "Cottage Gardener," for my purpose, is now far better than the "Gardeners' Chronicle."
LETTER 126. TO J.L.A. DE QUATREFAGES. Down, April 25 .