I say this on the strength of two or three plunges into as many chapters, for I have not yet attempted to read it. Lyell, with whom we are staying, is perfectly enchanted, and is absolutely gloating over it. I must accept your compliment to me, and acknowledgment of supposed assistance from me, as the warm tribute of affection from an honest (though deluded) man, and furthermore accept it as very pleasing to my vanity; but, my dear fellow, neither my name nor my judgment nor my assistance deserved any such compliments, and if I am dishonest enough to be pleased with what I don't deserve, it must just pass. How different the BOOK reads from the MS. I see I shall have much to talk over with you. Those lazy printers have not finished my luckless Essay; which, beside your book, will look like a ragged handkerchief beside a Royal Standard...
All well, ever yours affectionately, JOS. D. HOOKER.
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Ilkley, Yorkshire [November 1859].
My dear Hooker,
I cannot help it, I must thank you for your affectionate and most kind note. My head will be turned. By Jove, I must try and get a bit modest. I was a little chagrined by the review. (This refers to the review in the "Athenaeum", November 19, 1859, where the reviewer, after touching on the theological aspects of the book, leaves the author to "the mercies of the Divinity Hall, the College, the Lecture Room, and the Museum.") I hope it was NOT --. As advocate, he might think himself justified in giving the argument only on one side. But the manner in which he drags in immortality, and sets the priests at me, and leaves me to their mercies, is base. He would, on no account, burn me, but he will get the wood ready, and tell the black beasts how to catch me...It would be unspeakably grand if Huxley were to lecture on the subject, but I can see this is a mere chance; Faraday might think it too unorthodox.
...I had a letter from [Huxley] with such tremendous praise of my book, that modesty (as I am trying to cultivate that difficult herb) prevents me sending it to you, which I should have liked to have done, as he is very modest about himself.
You have cockered me up to that extent, that I now feel I can face a score of savage reviewers. I suppose you are still with the Lyells. Give my kindest remembrance to them. I triumph to hear that he continues to approve.
Believe me, your would-be modest friend, C.D.
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Ilkley Wells, Yorkshire, November 23 .
My dear Lyell,
You seemed to have worked admirably on the species question; there could not have been a better plan than reading up on the opposite side. I rejoice profoundly that you intend admitting the doctrine of modification in your new edition (It appears from Sir Charles Lyell's published letters that he intended to admit the doctrine of evolution in a new edition of the 'Manual,' but this was not published till 1865. He was, however, at work on the 'Antiquity of Man' in 1860, and had already determined to discuss the 'Origin' at the end of the book.); nothing, I am convinced, could be more important for its success. I honour you most sincerely. To have maintained in the position of a master, one side of a question for thirty years, and then deliberately give it up, is a fact to which I much doubt whether the records of science offer a parallel. For myself, also, I rejoice profoundly; for, thinking of so many cases of men pursuing an illusion for years, often and often a cold shudder has run through me, and I have asked myself whether I may not have devoted my life to a phantasy. Now I look at it as morally impossible that investigators of truth, like you and Hooker, can be wholly wrong, and therefore I rest in peace. Thank you for criticisms, which, if there be a second edition, I will attend to. I have been thinking that if I am much execrated as an atheist, etc., whether the admission of the doctrine of natural selection could injure your works; but I hope and think not, for as far as I can remember, the virulence of bigotry is expended on the first offender, and those who adopt his views are only pitied as deluded, by the wise and cheerful bigots.