I cannot help thinking that you overrate the importance of the multiple origin of dogs. The only difference is, that in the case of single origins, all difference of the races has originated since man domesticated the species. In the case of multiple origins part of the difference was produced under natural conditions. I should INFINITELY prefer the theory of single origin in all cases, if facts would permit its reception. But there seems to me some a priori improbability (seeing how fond savages are of taming animals), that throughout all times, and throughout all the world, that man should have domesticated one single species alone, of the widely distributed genus Canis. Besides this, the close resemblance of at least three kinds of American domestic dogs to wild species still inhabiting the countries where they are now domesticated, seem to almost compel admission that more than one wild Canis has been domesticated by man.
I thank you cordially for all the generous zeal and interest you have shown about my book, and I remain, my dear Lyell,
Your affectionate friend and disciple, CHARLES DARWIN.
Sir J. Herschel, to whom I sent a copy, is going to read my book. He says he leans to the side opposed to me. If you should meet him after he has read me, pray find out what he thinks, for, of course, he will not write; and I should excessively like to hear whether I produce any effect on such a mind.
T.H. HUXLEY TO CHARLES DARWIN. Jermyn Street W., November 23rd, 1859.
My dear Darwin,
I finished your book yesterday, a lucky examination having furnished me with a few hours of continuous leisure.
Since I read Von Baer's (Karl Ernst von Baer, born 1792, died at Dorpat 1876--one of the most distinguished biologists of the century. He practically founded the modern science of embryology.) essays, nine years ago, no work on Natural History Science I have met with has made so great an impression upon me, and I do most heartily thank you for the great store of new views you have given me. Nothing, I think, can be better than the tone of the book, it impresses those who know nothing about the subject. As for your doctrine, I am prepared to go to the stake, if requisite, in support of Chapter IX., and most parts of Chapters X., XI., XII., and Chapter XIII. contains much that is most admirable, but on one or two points I enter a caveat until I can see further into all sides of the question.
As to the first four chapters, I agree thoroughly and fully with all the principles laid down in them. I think you have demonstrated a true cause for the production of species, and have thrown the onus probandi that species did not arise in the way you suppose, on your adversaries.
But I feel that I have not yet by any means fully realized the bearings of those most remarkable and original Chapters III., IV. and V., and I will write no more about them just now.
The only objections that have occurred to me are, 1st that you have loaded yourself with an unnecessary difficulty in adopting Natura non facit saltum so unreservedly...And 2nd, it is not clear to me why, if continual physical conditions are of so little moment as you suppose, variation should occur at all.
However, I must read the book two or three times more before I presume to begin picking holes.
I trust you will not allow yourself to be in any way disgusted or annoyed by the considerable abuse and misrepresentation which, unless I greatly mistake, is in store for you. Depend upon it you have earned the lasting gratitude of all thoughtful men. And as to the curs which will bark and yelp, you must recollect that some of your friends, at any rate, are endowed with an amount of combativeness which (though you have often and justly rebuked it) may stand you in good stead.
I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness.
Looking back over my letter, it really expresses so feebly all I think about you and your noble book that I am half ashamed of it; but you will understand that, like the parrot in the story, "I think the more."
Ever yours faithfully, T.H.