I asked him what he thought the weakest part. He said he had no particular objection to any part. He added:--

"If I must criticise, I should say, 'we do not want to know what Darwin believes and is convinced of, but what he can prove.'" I agreed most fully and truly that I have probably greatly sinned in this line, and defended my general line of argument of inventing a theory and seeing how many classes of facts the theory would explain. I added that I would endeavour to modify the "believes" and "convinceds." He took me up short: "You will then spoil your book, the charm of (!) it is that it is Darwin himself." He added another objection, that the book was too teres atque rotundus--- that it explained everything, and that it was improbable in the highest degree that I should succeed in this. I quite agree with this rather queer objection, and it comes to this that my book must be very bad or very good...

I have heard, by roundabout channel, that Herschel says my book "is the law of higgledy-piggledy." What this exactly means I do not know, but it is evidently very contemptuous. If true this is a great blow and discouragement.


...The latter part of my stay at Ilkley did me much good, but I suppose I never shall be strong, for the work I have had since I came back has knocked me up a little more than once. I have been busy in getting a reprint (with a very few corrections) through the press.

My book has been as yet VERY MUCH more successful than I ever dreamed of: Murray is now printing 3000 copies. Have you finished it? If so, pray tell me whether you are with me on the GENERAL issue, or against me. If you are against me, I know well how honourable, fair, and candid an opponent I shall have, and which is a good deal more than I can say of all my opponents...

Pray tell me what you have been doing. Have you had time for any Natural History?...

P.S.--I have got--I wish and hope I might say that WE have got--a fair number of excellent men on our side of the question on the mutability of species.

CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, December 14th [1859].

My dear Hooker,

Your approval of my book, for many reasons, gives me intense satisfaction; but I must make some allowance for your kindness and sympathy. Any one with ordinary faculties, if he had PATIENCE enough and plenty of time, could have written my book. You do not know how I admire your and Lyell's generous and unselfish sympathy, I do not believe either of you would have cared so much about your own work. My book, as yet, has been far more successful than I ever even formerly ventured in the wildest day-dreams to anticipate. We shall soon be a good body of working men, and shall have, I am convinced, all young and rising naturalists on our side. I shall be intensely interested to hear whether my book produces any effect on A. Gray; from what I heard at Lyell's, I fancy your correspondence has brought him some way already. I fear that there is no chance of Bentham being staggered. Will he read my book? Has he a copy? I would send him one of the reprints if he has not. Old J.E. Gray (John Edward Gray (1800-1875), was the son of S.F. Gray, author of the 'Supplement to the Pharmacopoeia.' In 1821 he published in his father's name 'The Natural Arrangement of British Plants,' one of the earliest works in English on the natural method. In 1824 he became connected with the Natural History Department of the British Museum, and was appointed Keeper of the Zoological collections in 1840. He was the author of 'Illustrations of Indian Zoology,' 'The Knowsley Menagerie,' etc., and of innumerable descriptive Zoological papers.), at the British Museum, attacked me in fine style: "You have just reproduced Lamarck's doctrine and nothing else, and here Lyell and others have been attacking him for twenty years, and because YOU (with a sneer and laugh) say the very same thing, they are all coming round; it is the most ridiculous inconsistency, etc., etc."

You must be very glad to be settled in your house, and I hope all the improvements satisfy you.

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume II Page 19

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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