r lectures I can give you a few amusing anecdotes and sentences, if you want to make the audience laugh.
I thank you particularly for telling me what naturalists think. If we can once make a compact set of believers we shall in time conquer. I am EMINENTLY glad Ramsey is on our side, for he is, in my opinion, a first- rate geologist. I sent him a copy. I hope he got it. I shall be very curious to hear whether any effect has been produced on Prestwich; I sent him a copy, not as a friend, but owing to a sentence or two in some paper, which made me suspect he was doubting.
Rev. C. Kingsley has a mind to come round. Quatrefages writes that he goes some long way with me; says he exhibited diagrams like mine. With most hearty thanks,
Yours very tired, C. DARWIN.
[I give the conclusion of Professor Huxley's lecture, as being one of the earliest, as well as one of the most eloquent of his utterances in support of the 'Origin of Species':
"I have said that the man of science is the sworn interpreter of nature in the high court of reason. But of what avail is his honest speech, if ignorance is the assessor of the judge, and prejudice the foreman of the jury? I hardly know of a great physical truth, whose universal reception has not been preceded by an epoch in which most estimable persons have maintained that the phenomena investigated were directly dependent on the Divine Will, and that the attempt to investigate them was not only futile, but blasphemous. And there is a wonderful tenacity of life about this sort of opposition to physical science. Crushed and maimed in every battle, it yet seems never to be slain; and after a hundred defeats it is at this day as rampant, though happily not so mischievous, as in the time of Galileo.
"But to those whose life is spent, to use Newton's noble words, in picking up here a pebble and there a pebble on the shores of the great ocean of truth--who watch, day by day, the slow but sure advance of that mighty tide, bearing on its bosom the thousand treasures wherewith man ennobles and beautifies his life--it would be laughable, if it were not so sad, to see the little Canutes of the hour enthroned in solemn state, bidding that great wave to stay, and threatening to check its beneficent progress. The wave rises and they fly; but, unlike the brave old Dane, they learn no lesson of humility: the throne is pitched at what seems a safe distance, and the folly is repeated.
"Surely it is the duty of the public to discourage anything of this kind, to discredit these foolish meddlers who think they do the Almighty a service by preventing a thorough study of His works.
"The Origin of Species is not the first, and it will not be the last, of the great questions born of science, which will demand settlement from this generation. The general mind is seething strangely, and to those who watch the signs of the times, it seems plain that this nineteenth century will see revolutions of thought and practice as great as those which the sixteenth witnessed. Through what trials and sore contests the civilised world will have to pass in the course of this new reformation, who can tell?
"But I verily believe that come what will, the part which England may play in the battle is a grand and a noble one. She may prove to the world that, for one people, at any rate, despotism and demagogy are not the necessary alternatives of government; that freedom and order are not incompatible; that reverence is the handmaid of knowledge; that free discussion is the life of truth, and of true unity in a nation.
"Will England play this part? That depends upon how you, the public, deal with science. Cherish her, venerate her, follow her methods faithfully and implicitly in their application to all branches of human thought, and the future of this people will be greater than the past.
"Listen to those who would silence and crush her, and I fear our children will see the glory of England vanishing like Arthur in the mist; they will cry too late the woful cry of Guinever:--
'It was my duty to have loved the highest; It surely was my profit had I known; It would have been my pleasure had I seen.'"]
CHARLES DARWIN TO C.