He was educated at Cambridge, and from 1842 to 1846 he acted as naturalist to H.M.S. "Fly", on an exploring expedition in Australia and New Guinea. He was afterwards appointed Director of the Geological Survey of Ireland. He was the author of many papers, and of more than one good hand-book of geology.
Searles Valentine Wood, February 14, 1798-1880. Chiefly known for his work on the Mollusca of the 'Crag.')
[The following letter is of interest in connection with the mention of Mr. Bentham in the last letter:]
G. BENTHAM TO FRANCIS DARWIN. 25 Wilton Place, S.W., May 30th, 1882.
My dear Sir,
In compliance with your note which I received last night, I send herewith the letters I have from your father. I should have done so on seeing the general request published in the papers, but that I did not think there were any among them which could be of any use to you. Highly flattered as I was by the kind and friendly notice with which Mr. Darwin occasionally honoured me, I was never admitted into his intimacy, and he therefore never made any communications to me in relation to his views and labours. I have been throughout one of his most sincere admirers, and fully adopted his theories and conclusions, notwithstanding the severe pain and disappointment they at first occasioned me. On the day that his celebrated paper was read at the Linnean Society, July 1st, 1858, a long paper of mine had been set down for reading, in which, in commenting on the British Flora, I had collected a number of observations and facts illustrating what I then believed to be a fixity in species, however difficult it might be to assign their limits, and showing a tendency of abnormal forms produced by cultivation or otherwise, to withdraw within those original limits when left to themselves. Most fortunately my paper had to give way to Mr. Darwin's and when once that was read, I felt bound to defer mine for reconsideration; I began to entertain doubts on the subject, and on the appearance of the 'Origin of Species,' I was forced, however reluctantly, to give up my long-cherished convictions, the results of much labour and study, and I cancelled all that part of my paper which urged original fixity, and published only portions of the remainder in another form, chiefly in the 'Natural History Review.' I have since acknowledged on various occasions my full adoption of Mr. Darwin's views, and chiefly in my Presidential Address of 1863, and in my thirteenth and last address, issued in the form of a report to the British Association at its meeting at Belfast in 1874.
I prize so highly the letters that I have of Mr. Darwin's, that I should feel obliged by your returning them to me when you have done with them. Unfortunately I have not kept the envelopes, and Mr. Darwin usually only dated them by the month not by the year, so that they are not in any chronological order.
Yours very sincerely, GEORGE BENTHAM.
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down [March] 12th .
My dear Lyell,
Thinking over what we talked about, the high state of intellectual development of the old Grecians with the little or no subsequent improvement, being an apparent difficulty, it has just occurred to me that in fact the case harmonises perfectly with our views. The case would be a decided difficulty on the Lamarckian or Vestigian doctrine of necessary progression, but on the view which I hold of progression depending on the conditions, it is no objection at all, and harmonises with the other facts of progression in the corporeal structure of other animals. For in a state of anarchy, or despotism, or bad government, or after irruption of barbarians, force, strength, or ferocity, and not intellect, would be apt to gain the day.
We have so enjoyed your and Lady Lyell's visit.
Good-night. C. DARWIN.
P.S.--By an odd chance (for I had not alluded even to the subject) the ladies attacked me this evening, and threw the high state of old Grecians into my teeth, as an unanswerable difficulty, but by good chance I had my answer all pat, and silenced them.