So there the matter stands. If you furnish any matter in advance of the London third edition, I will make them pay for it.

I may get something for you. All got is clear gain; but it will not be very much, I suppose.

Such little notices in the papers here as have yet appeared are quite handsome and considerate.

I hope next week to get printed sheets of my review from New Haven, and send [them] to you, and will ask you to pass them on to Dr. Hooker.

To fulfil your request, I ought to tell you what I think the weakest, and what the best, part of your book. But this is not easy, nor to be done in a word or two. The BEST PART, I think, is the WHOLE, i.e., its PLAN and TREATMENT, the vast amount of facts and acute inferences handled as if you had a perfect mastery of them. I do not think twenty years too much time to produce such a book in.

Style clear and good, but now and then wants revision for little matters (page 97, self-fertilises ITSELF, etc.).

Then your candour is worth everything to your cause. It is refreshing to find a person with a new theory who frankly confesses that he finds difficulties, insurmountable, at least for the present. I know some people who never have any difficulties to speak of.

The moment I understood your premisses, I felt sure you had a real foundation to hold on. Well, if one admits your premisses, I do not see how he is to stop short of your conclusions, as a probable hypothesis at least.

It naturally happens that my review of your book does not exhibit anything like the full force of the impression the book has made upon me. Under the circumstances I suppose I do your theory more good here, by bespeaking for it a fair and favourable consideration, and by standing non-committed as to its full conclusions, than I should if I announced myself a convert; nor could I say the latter, with truth.

Well, what seems to me the weakest point in the book is the attempt to account for the formation of organs, the making of eyes, etc., by natural selection. Some of this reads quite Lamarckian.

The chapter on HYBRIDISM is not a WEAK, but a STRONG chapter. You have done wonders there. But still you have not accounted, as you may be held to account, for divergence up to a certain extent producing increased fertility of the crosses, but carried one short almost imperceptible step more, giving rise to sterility, or reversing the tendency. Very likely you are on the right track; but you have something to do yet in that department.

Enough for the present.

...I am not insensible to your compliments, the very high compliment which you pay me in valuing my opinion. You evidently think more of it than I do, though from the way I write [to] you, and especially [to] Hooker, this might not be inferred from the reading of my letters.

I am free to say that I never learnt so much from one book as I have from yours, there remain a thousand things I long to say about it.

Ever yours, ASA GRAY.


...Now I will just run through some points in your letter. What you say about my book gratifies me most deeply, and I wish I could feel all was deserved by me. I quite think a review from a man, who is not an entire convert, if fair and moderately favourable, is in all respects the best kind of review. About the weak points I agree. The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder, but when I think of the fine known gradations, my reason tells me I ought to conquer the cold shudder.

Pray kindly remember and tell Prof. Wyman how very grateful I should be for any hints, information, or criticisms. I have the highest respect for his opinion. I am so sorry about Dana's health. I have already asked him to pay me a visit.

Farewell, you have laid me under a load of obligation--not that I feel it a load. It is the highest possible gratification to me to think that you have found my book worth reading and reflection; for you and three others I put down in my own mind as the judges whose opinions I should value most of all.

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume II Page 32

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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