It had, however, one advantage over previous editions, namely that it was issued at a lower price. It is to be regretted that this the final edition of the 'Origin' should have appeared in so unattractive a form; a form which has doubtless kept off many readers from the book.

The discussion suggested by the 'Genesis of Species' was perhaps the most important addition to the book. The objection that incipient structures cannot be of use was dealt with in some detail, because it seemed to the author that this was the point in Mr. Mivart's book which has struck most readers in England.

It is a striking proof of how wide and general had become the acceptance of his views that my father found it necessary to insert (sixth edition, page 424), the sentence: "As a record of a former state of things, I have retained in the foregoing paragraphs and also elsewhere, several sentences which imply that naturalists believe in the separate creation of each species; and I have been much censured for having thus expressed myself. But undoubtedly this was the general belief when the first edition of the present work appeared...Now things are wholly changed, and almost every naturalist admits the great principle of evolution."

A small correction introduced into this sixth edition is connected with one of his minor papers: "Note on the habits of the Pampas Woodpecker." (Zoolog. Soc. Proc. 1870.) In the fifth edition of the 'Origin,' page 220, he wrote:--

"Yet as I can assert not only from my own observation, but from that of the accurate Azara, it [the ground woodpecker] never climbs a tree." The paper in question was a reply to Mr. Hudson's remarks on the woodpecker in a previous number of the same journal. The last sentence of my father's paper is worth quoting for its temperate tone: "Finally, I trust that Mr. Hudson is mistaken when he says that any one acquainted with the habits of this bird might be induced to believe that I 'had purposely wrested the truth' in order to prove my theory. He exonerates me from this charge; but I should be loath to think that there are many naturalists who, without any evidence, would accuse a fellow-worker of telling a deliberate falsehood to prove his theory." In the sixth edition, page 142, the passage runs "in certain large districts it does not climb trees." And he goes on to give Mr. Hudson's statement that in other regions it does frequent trees.

One of the additions in the sixth edition (page 149), was a reference to Mr. A. Hyatt's and Professor Cope's theory of "acceleration." With regard to this he wrote (October 10, 1872) in characteristic words to Mr. Hyatt:--

"Permit me to take this opportunity to express my sincere regret at having committed two grave errors in the last edition of my 'Origin of Species,' in my allusion to yours and Professor Cope's views on acceleration and retardation of development. I had thought that Professor Cope had preceded you; but I now well remember having formerly read with lively interest, and marked, a paper by you somewhere in my library, on fossil Cephalapods with remarks on the subject. It seems also that I have quite misrepresented your joint view. This has vexed me much. I confess that I have never been able to grasp fully what you wish to show, and I presume that this must be owing to some dulness on my part."

Lastly, it may be mentioned that this cheap edition being to some extent intended as a popular one, was made to include a glossary of technical terms, "given because several readers have complained...that some of the terms used were unintelligible to them." The glossary was compiled by Mr. Dallas, and being an excellent collection of clear and sufficient definitions, must have proved useful to many readers.]

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.L.A. DE QUATREFAGES. Down, January 15, 1872.

My dear Sir,

I am much obliged for your very kind letter and exertions in my favour. I had thought that the publication of my last book ['Descent of Man'] would have destroyed all your sympathy with me, but though I estimated very highly your great liberality of mind, it seems that I underrated it.

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume II Page 155

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book