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- More Letters of Charles Darwin Volume I - 50/99 -
might have enlarged a little on the later embryological changes in man and on his rudimentary structure, tail as compared with tail of higher monkeys, intermaxillary bone, false ribs, and I daresay other points, such as muscles of ears, etc., etc. I was very much struck with admiration at the opening pages of Part II. (and oh! what a delicious sneer, as good as a dessert, at page 106) (164/2. Huxley, op. cit., page 106. After saying that "there is but one hypothesis regarding the origin of species of animals in general which has any scientific existence--that propounded by Mr. Darwin," and after a few words on Lamarck, he goes on: "And though I have heard of the announcement of a formula touching 'the ordained continuous becoming of organic forms,' it is obvious that it is the first duty of a hypothesis to be intelligible, and that a qua-qua-versal proposition of this kind, which may be read backwards or forwards, or sideways, with exactly the same amount of significance, does not really exist, though it may seem to do so." The "formula" in question is Owen's.): but my admiration is unbounded at pages 109 to 112. I declare I never in my life read anything grander. Bacon himself could not have charged a few paragraphs with more condensed and cutting sense than you have done. It is truly grand. I regret extremely that you could not, or did not, end your book (not that I mean to say a word against the Geological History) with these pages. With a book, as with a fine day, one likes it to end with a glorious sunset. I congratulate you on its publication; but do not be disappointed if it does not sell largely: parts are highly scientific, and I have often remarked that the best books frequently do not get soon appreciated: certainly large sale is no proof of the highest merit. But I hope it may be widely distributed; and I am rejoiced to see in your note to Miss Rhadamanthus (164/3. This refers to Mr. Darwin's daughter (now Mrs. Litchfield), whom Mr. Huxley used to laugh at for the severity of her criticisms.) that a second thousand is called for of the little book. What a letter that is of Owen's in the "Athenaeum" (164/4. A letter by Owen in the "Athenaeum," February 21st, 1863, replying to strictures on his treatment of the brain question, which had appeared in Lyell's "Antiquity of Man."); how cleverly he will utterly muddle and confound the public. Indeed he quite muddled me, till I read again your "concise statement" (164/5. This refers to a section (pages 113-18) in "Man's Place in Nature," headed "A succinct History of the Controversy respecting the Cerebral Structure of Man and the Apes." Huxley follows the question from Owen's attempt to classify the mammalia by cerebral characters, published by the "Linn. Soc." in 1857, up to his revival of the subject at the Cambridge meeting of the British Association in 1862. It is a tremendous indictment of Owen, and seems to us to conclude not unfittingly with a citation from Huxley's article in the "Medical Times," October 11th, 1862. Huxley here points out that special investigations have been made into the question at issue "during the last two years" by Allen Thomson, Rolleston, Marshall, Flower, Schroeder van der Kolk and Vrolik, and that "all these able and conscientious observers" have testified to the accuracy of his statements, "while not a single anatomist, great or small, has supported Professor Owen." He sums up the case once more, and concludes: "The question has thus become one of personal veracity. For myself I will accept no other issue than this, grave as it is, to the present controversy.") (which is capitally clear), and then I saw that my suspicion was true that he has entirely changed his ground to size of Brain. How candid he shows himself to have taken the slipped Brain! (164/6. Owen in the "Athenaeum," February 21st, 1863, admits that in the brain which he used in illustration of his statements "the cerebral hemispheres had glided forward and apart behind so as to expose a portion of the cerebellum.") I am intensely curious to see whether Lyell will answer. (164/7. Lyell's answer was in the "Athenaeum" March 7th, 1863.) Lyell has been, I fear, rather rash to enter on a subject on which he of course knows nothing by himself. By heavens, Owen will shake himself, when he sees what an antagonist he has made for himself in you. With hearty admiration, Farewell.
I am fearfully disappointed at Lyell's excessive caution (164/8. In the "Antiquity of Man": see "Life and Letters," III., page 8.) in expressing any judgment on Species or [on the] origin of Man.
LETTER 165. TO JOHN SCOTT. Down, March 6th, 1863.
I thank you for your criticisms on the "Origin," and which I have not time to discuss; but I cannot help doubting, from your expression of an "INNATE...selective principle," whether you fully comprehend what is meant by Natural Selection. Certainly when you speak of weaker (i.e. less well adapted) forms crossing with the stronger, you take a widely different view from what I do on the struggle for existence; for such weaker forms could not exist except by the rarest chance. With respect to utility, reflect that 99/100ths part of the structure of each being is due to inheritance of formerly useful structures. Pray read what I have said on "correlation." Orchids ought to show us how ignorant we are of what is useful. No doubt hundreds of cases could be advanced of which no explanation could be offered; but I must stop. Your letter has interested me much. I am very far from strong, and have great fear that I must stop all work for a couple of months for entire rest, and leave home. It will be ruin to all my work.
LETTER 166. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, April 23rd .
The more I think of Falconer's letter (166/1. Published in the "Athenaeum" April 4th, 1863, page 459. The writer asserts that Lyell did not make it clear that certain material made use of in the "Antiquity of Man" was supplied by the original work of Mr. Prestwich and himself. (See "Life and Letters," III., page 19.)) the more grieved I am; he and Prestwich (the latter at least must owe much to the "Principles") assume an absurdly unwarrantable position with respect to Lyell. It is too bad to treat an old hero in science thus. I can see from a note from Falconer (about a wonderful fossil Brazilian Mammal, well called Meso- or Typo-therium) that he expects no sympathy from me. He will end, I hope, by being sorry. Lyell lays himself open to a slap by saying that he would come to show his original observations, and then not distinctly doing so; he had better only have laid claim, on this one point of man, to verification and compilation.
Altogether, I much like Lyell's letter. But all this squabbling will greatly sink scientific men. I have seen a sneer already in the "Times."
LETTER 167. TO H.W. BATES. At Rev. C. Langton, Hartfield, Tunbridge Wells, April 30th .
You will have received before this the note which I addressed to Leicester, after finishing Volume I., and you will have received copies of my little review (167/1. "Nat. Hist. Review," 1863, page 219. A review of Bates' paper on Mimetic Butterflies.) of your paper...I have now finished Volume II., and my opinion remains the same--that you have written a truly admirable work (167/2. "The Naturalist on the Amazons," 1863.), with capital original remarks, first-rate descriptions, and the whole in a style which could not be improved. My family are now reading the book, and admire it extremely; and, as my wife remarks, it has so strong an air of truthfulness. I had a letter from a person the other day, unknown to you, full of praise of the book. I do hope it may get extensively heard of and circulated; but to a certain extent this, I think, always depends on chance.
I suppose the clicking noise of surprise made by the Indian is that which the end of the tongue, applied to the palate of the mouth and suddenly withdrawn, makes?
I have not written since receiving your note of April 20th, in which you confided in me and told me your prospects. I heartily wish they were better, and especially more certain; but with your abilities and powers of writing it will be strange if you cannot add what little you require for your income. I am glad that you have got a retired and semi-rural situation. What a grand ending you give to your book, contrasting civilisation and wild life! I quite regret that I have finished it: every evening it was a real treat to me to have my half-hour in the grand Amazonian forest, and picture to myself your vivid descriptions. There are heaps of facts of value to me in a natural history point of view. It was a great misfortune that you were prevented giving the discussion on species. But you will, I hope, be able to give your views and facts somewhere else.
LETTER 168. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, May 15th .
Your letter received this morning interested me more than even most of your letters, and that is saying a good deal. I must scribble a little on several points. About Lyell and species--you put the whole case, I do believe, when you say that he is "half-hearted and whole-headed." (168/1. Darwin's disappointment with the cautious point of view taken up by Lyell in the "Antiquity of Man" is illustrated in the "Life and Letters," III., pages 11, 13. See also Letter 164, page 239.) I wrote to A. Gray that, when I saw such men as Lyell and he refuse to judge, it put me in despair, and that I sometimes thought I should prefer that Lyell had judged against modification of species rather than profess inability to decide; and I left him to apply this to himself. I am heartily rejoiced to hear that you intend to try to bring L. and F. (168/2. Falconer claimed that Lyell had not "done justice to the part he took in resuscitating the cave question." See "Life and Letters," III., page 14.) together again; but had you not better wait till they are a little cooled? You will do Science a real good service. Falconer never forgave Lyell for taking the Purbeck bones from him and handing them over to Owen.
With respect to island floras, if I understand rightly, we differ almost solely how plants first got there. I suppose that at long intervals, from as far back as later Tertiary periods to the present time, plants occasionally arrived (in some cases, perhaps, aided by different currents from existing currents and by former islands), and that these old arrivals have survived little modified on the islands, but have become greatly modified or become extinct on the continent. If I understand, you believe that all islands were formerly united to continents, and then received all their plants and none since; and that on the islands they have undergone less extinction and modification than on the continent. The number of animal forms on islands, very closely allied to those on continents, with a few extremely distinct and anomalous, does not seem to me well to harmonise with your supposed view of all having formerly arrived or rather having been left together on the island.
LETTER 169. TO ASA GRAY. Down, May 31st [1863?].
I was very glad to receive your review (169/1. The review on De Candolle's work on the Oaks (A. Gray's "Scientific Papers," I., page 130).) of De Candolle a week ago. It seems to me excellent, and you speak out, I think, more plainly in favour of derivation of species than hitherto, though doubtfully about Natural Selection. Grant the first, I am easy about the second. Do you not consider such cases as all the orchids next thing to a demonstration against Heer's view of species arising suddenly by monstrosities?--it is impossible to imagine so many co-adaptations being formed all by a chance blow. Of course creationists would cut the enigma.
LETTER 170. TO T.H. HUXLEY. June 27th [1863?]
What are you doing now? I have never yet got hold of the "Edinburgh Review," in which I hear you are well abused. By the way, I heard lately from Asa Gray that Wyman was delighted at "Man's Place." (170/1.
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