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Can you tell me of any good and speculative foreigners to whom it would be worth while to send copies of my book, on the 'Origin of Species '? I doubt whether it is worth sending to Siebold. I should like to send a few copies about, but how many I can afford I know not yet till I hear what price Murray affixes.
I need not say that I will send, of course, one to you, in the first week of November. I hope to send copies abroad immediately. I shall be intensely curious to hear what effect the book produces on you. I know that there will be much in it which you will object to, and I do not doubt many errors, I am very far from expecting to convert you to many of my heresies; but if, on the whole, you and two or three others think I am on the right road, I shall not care what the mob of naturalists think. The penultimate chapter,* though I believe it includes the truth, will, I much fear, make you savage. Do not act and say, like Macleay versus Fleming, “I write with aqua fortis to bite into brass."
C. DARWIN. C. Darwin to C. Lyell.
Oct. 20th (1859). MY DEAR LYEL1.,—I have been reading over all your letters consecutively, and I do not feel that I have thanked you half enough for the extreme pleasure which they have given me, and for their utility. I see in them evidence of fluctuation in the -degree of credence you give to the theory; nor am I at all surprised at this, for many and many fluctuations I have undergone.
There is one point in your letter which I did not notice, about the animals (and many plants) naturalised in Australia, which you think could not endure without man's aid. I cannot see how man does aid the feral cattle. But, letting that
* Chapter XIII. is on Classification, Morphology, Embryology, and Ruçlimentary Organs.
pass, you seem to think, that because they suffer prodigious destruction during droughts, that they would all be destroyed. In the “gran secos" of La Plata, the indigenous animals, such as the American deer, die by thousands, and suffer apparently as much as the cattle. In parts of India, after a drought, it takes ten or more years before the indigenous mammals get up to their full number again. Your argument would, I think, apply to the aborigines as well as to the feral.
An animal or plant which becomes feral in one small territory might be destroyed by climate, but I can hardly believe So, when once feral over several large territories. Again, I feel inclined to swear at climate : do not think me impudent for attacking you about climate. You say you doubt whether man could have existed under the Eocene climate, but man can now withstand the climate of Esquimaux-land and West Equatorial Africa; and surely you do not think the Eocene climate differed from the present throughout all Europe, as much as the Arctic regions differ from Equatorial Africa?
With respect to organisms being created on the American type in America, it might, I think, be said that they were so created to prevent them being too well created, so as to beat the aborigines; but this seems to me, somehow, a monstrous doctrine.
I have reflected a good deal on what you say on the necessity of continued intervention of creative power. I cannot see this necessity; and its admission, I think, would make the theory of Natural Selection valueless. Grant a simple Archetypal creature, like the Mud-fish or Lepidonsiren, with the five senses and some vestige of mind, and I believe natural selection will account for the production of every vertebrate animal.
Farewell ; forgive me for indulging in this prose, and believe me, with cordial thanks, Your ever attached disciple,
C. DARWIN. P. S.-When, and if, you reread, I supplicate you to write on the margin the word "expand," when too condensed, or
"not clear," or "?.” Such marks would cost you little trouble, and I could copy them and reflect on them, and their value would be infinite to me.
My larger book will have to be wholly re-written, and not merely the present volume expanded; so that I want to waste as little time over this volume as possible, if another edition be called for; but I fear the subject will be too perplexing, as I have treated it, for general public.
C. Darwin to J. D. Hooker.
Sunday (Oct. 23rd, 1859). MY DEAR HOOKER,-I congratulate you on your 'Introduction'* being in fact finished. I am sure from what I read of it (and deeply I shall be interested in reading it straight through), that it must have cost you a prodigious amount of labour and thought, I shall like very much to see the sheet, which you wish me to look at. Now I am so completely a gentleman, that I have sometimes a little difficulty to pass the day ; but it is astonishing how idle a three weeks I have passed. If it is any comfort to you, pray delude yourself by saying that you intend “sticking to humdrum science.” But I believe it just as much as if a plant were to say that, “ I have been growing all my life, and, by Jove, I will stop growing." You cannot help yourself; you are not clever enough for that. You could not even remain idle, as I have done, for three weeks! What you say about Lyell pleases me exceedingly; I had not at all inferred from his letters that he had come so much round. I remember thinking, above a year ago, that if ever I lived to see Lyell, yourself, and Huxley come round, partly by my book, and partly by their own reflections, I should feel that the subject is safe, and all the world might rail, but that ultimately the theory of Natural Selection (though, no doubt, imperfect in its present condition, and embracing many errors) would prevail. Nothing will ever convince me that three such men, with so much diversified knowledge, and so well accustomed to search for truth, could err greatly. I have spoken of you here as a convert made by me; but I know well how much larger the share has been of your own self-thought. I am intensely curious to hear Huxley's opinion of my book. I fear my long discussion on Classification will disgust him ; for it is much opposed to what he once said to me.
* Australian Flora.
But, how I am running on. You see how idle I am ; but I have so enjoyed your letter that you must forgive me. With respect to migration during the glacial period: I think Lyell quite comprehends, for he has given me a supporting fact. But, perhaps, he unconsciously hates (do not say so to him) the view as slightly staggering him on his favourite theory of all changes of climate being due to changes in the relative position of land and water.
I will send copies of my book to all the men specified by you ; . . . would you be so kind as to add title, as Doctor, or Professor, or Monsieur, or Von, and initials (when wanted), and addresses to the names on the enclosed list, and let me have it pretty soon, as towards the close of this week Murray says the copies to go abroad will be ready. I am anxious to get my view generally known, and not, I hope and think, for mere personal conceit. ....
C. Darwin to C. Lyell.
Ilkley, Yorkshire, Oct. 25th (1859). . . . . . Our difference on "principle of improvement" and “ power of adaptation " is too profound for discussion by letter. If I am wrong, I am quite blind to my error. If I am right, our difference will be got over only by your re-reading carefully and reflecting on my first four chapters. I supplicate you to read these again carefully. The so-called improvement of our Shorthorn cattle, pigeons, &c., does not presuppose or require any aboriginal“ power of adaptation,”:
or "principle of improvement;” it requires only diversified variability, and man to select or take advantage of those modifications which are useful to him; so under nature any slight modification which chances to arise, and is useful to any creature, is selected or preserved in the struggle for life ; any modification which is injurious is destroyed or rejected ; any which is neither useful nor injurious will be left a fluctuating element. When you contrast natural selection and "improvement,” you seem always to overlook (for I do not see how you can deny) that every step in the natural selection of each species implies improvement in that species in relation to its conditions of life. No modification can be selected without it be an improvement or advantage. Improvement implies, I suppose, each form obtaining many parts or organs, all excel. lently adapted for their functions. As each species is improved, and as the number of forms will have increased, if we look to the whole course of time, the organic condition of life for other forms will become more complex, and there will be a necessity for other forms to become improved, or they will be exterminated; and I can see no limit to this process of improvernent, without the intervention of any other and direct principle of improvement. All this seems to me quite compatible with certain forms fitted for simple conditions, remaining unaltered, or being degraded.
If I have a second edition, I will reiterate "Natural Selection,” and, as a general consequence, “Natural Improvement."
As you go, as far as you do, I begin strongly to think, judging from myself, that you will go much further. How slowly the older geologists admitted your grand views on existing geological causes of change!
If at any time you think I can answer any question, it is a real pleasure to me to write.