LETTER 118. TO H.W. BATES. Down, November 22nd .
I thank you sincerely for writing to me and for your very interesting letter. Your name has for very long been familiar to me, and I have heard of your zealous exertions in the cause of Natural History. But I did not know that you had worked with high philosophical questions before your mind. I have an old belief that a good observer really means a good theorist (118/1. For an opposite opinion, see Letter 13.), and I fully expect to find your observations most valuable. I am very sorry to hear that your health is shattered; but I trust under a healthy climate it may be restored. I can sympathise with you fully on this score, for I have had bad health for many years, and fear I shall ever remain a confirmed invalid. I am delighted to hear that you, with all your large practical knowledge of Natural History, anticipated me in many respects and concur with me. As you say, I have been thoroughly well attacked and reviled (especially by entomologists--Westwood, Wollaston, and A. Murray have all reviewed and sneered at me to their hearts' content), but I care nothing about their attacks; several really good judges go a long way with me, and I observe that all those who go some little way tend to go somewhat further. What a fine philosophical mind your friend Mr. Wallace has, and he has acted, in relation to me, like a true man with a noble spirit. I see by your letter that you have grappled with several of the most difficult problems, as it seems to me, in Natural History--such as the distinctions between the different kinds of varieties, representative species, etc. Perhaps I shall find some facts in your paper on intermediate varieties in intermediate regions, on which subject I have found remarkably little information. I cannot tell you how glad I am to hear that you have attended to the curious point of equatorial refrigeration. I quite agree that it must have been small; yet the more I go into that question the more convinced I feel that there was during the Glacial period some migration from north to south. The sketch in the "Origin" gives a very meagre account of my fuller MS. essay on this subject.
I shall be particularly obliged for a copy of your paper when published (118/2. Probably a paper by Bates entitled "Contributions to an Insect Fauna of the Amazon Valley" ("Trans. Entomol. Soc." Volume V., page 335, 1858-61).); and if any suggestions occur to me (not that you require any) or questions, I will write and ask.
I have at once to prepare a new edition of the "Origin," (118/3. Third Edition, March, 1861.), and I will do myself the pleasure of sending you a copy; but it will be only very slightly altered.
Cases of neuter ants, divided into castes, with intermediate gradations (which I imagine are rare) interest me much. See "Origin" on the driver- ant, page 241 (please look at the passage.)
(119/1. This refers to the first number of the new series of the "Natural History Review," 1861, a periodical which Huxley was largely instrumental in founding, and of which he was an editor (see Letter 107). The first series was published in Dublin, and ran to seven volumes between 1854 and 1860. The new series came to an end in 1865.)
I have just finished No. 1 of the "Natural History Review," and must congratulate you, as chiefly concerned, on its excellence. The whole seems to me admirable,--so admirable that it is impossible that other numbers should be so good, but it would be foolish to expect it. I am rather a croaker, and I do rather fear that the merit of the articles will be above the run of common readers and subscribers. I have been much interested by your brain article. (119/2. The "Brain article" of Huxley bore the title "On the Zoological Relations of Man with the Lower Animals," and appeared in No. 1, January 1861, page 67. It was Mr. Huxley's vindication of the unqualified contradiction given by him at the Oxford meeting of the British Association to Professor Owen's assertions as to the difference between the brains of man and the higher apes. The sentence omitted by Owen in his lecture before the University of Cambridge was a footnote on the close structural resemblance between Homo and Pithecus, which occurs in his paper on the characters of the class Mammalia in the "Linn. Soc. Journal," Volume II., 1857, page 20. According to Huxley the lecture, or "Essay on the Classification of the Mammalia," was, with this omission, a reprint of the Linnean paper. In "Man's Place in Nature," page 110, note, Huxley remarks: "Surely it is a little singular that the 'anatomist,' who finds it 'difficult' to 'determine the difference' between Homo and Pithecus, should yet range them, on anatomical grounds, in distinct sub-classes.") What a complete and awful smasher (and done like a "buttered angel") it is for Owen! What a humbug he is to have left out the sentence in the lecture before the orthodox Cambridge dons! I like Lubbock's paper very much: how well he writes. (119/3. Sir John Lubbock's paper was a review of Leydig on the Daphniidae. M'Donnell's was "On the Homologies of the Electric Organ of the Torpedo," afterwards used in the "Origin" (see Edition VI., page 150).) M'Donnell, of course, pleases me greatly. But I am very curious to know who wrote the Protozoa article: I shall hear, if it be not a secret, from Lubbock. It strikes me as very good, and, by Jove, how Owen is shown up--"this great and sound reasoner"! By the way, this reminds me of a passage which I have just observed in Owen's address at Leeds, which a clever reviewer might turn into good fun. He defines (page xc) and further on amplifies his definition that creation means "a process he knows not what." And in a previous sentence he says facts shake his confidence that the Apteryx in New Zealand and Red Grouse in England are "distinct creations." So that he has no confidence that these birds were produced by "processes he knows not what!" To what miserable inconsistencies and rubbish this truckling to opposite opinions leads the great generaliser! (119/4. In the "Historical Sketch," which forms part of the later editions of the "Origin," Mr. Darwin made use of Owen's Leeds Address in the manner sketched above. See "Origin," Edition VI., page xvii.)
Farewell: I heartily rejoice in the clear merit of this number. I hope Mrs. Huxley goes on well. Etty keeps much the same, but has not got up to the same pitch as when you were here. Farewell.