Hence I have thought it worth scribbling to you...

CHARLES DARWIN TO J. PRESTWICH. (Now Professor of Geology in the University of Oxford.) Down, March 12th [1860].

...At some future time, when you have a little leisure, and when you have read my 'Origin of Species,' I should esteem it a SINGULAR favour if you would send me any general criticisms. I do not mean of unreasonable length, but such as you could include in a letter. I have always admired your various memoirs so much that I should be eminently glad to receive your opinion, which might be of real service to me.

Pray do not suppose that I expect to CONVERT or PERVERT you; if I could stagger you in ever so slight a degree I should be satisfied; nor fear to annoy me by severe criticisms, for I have had some hearty kicks from some of my best friends. If it would not be disagreeable to you to send me your opinion, I certainly should be truly obliged...

CHARLES DARWIN TO ASA GRAY. Down, April 3rd [1860].

...I remember well the time when the thought of the eye made me cold all over, but I have got over this stage of the complaint, and now small trifling particulars of structure often make me very uncomfortable. The sight of a feather in a peacock's tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!...

You may like to hear about reviews on my book. Sedgwick (as I and Lyell feel CERTAIN from internal evidence) has reviewed me savagely and unfairly in the "Spectator". (See the quotations which follow the present letter.) The notice includes much abuse, and is hardly fair in several respects. He would actually lead any one, who was ignorant of geology, to suppose that I had invented the great gaps between successive geological formations, instead of its being an almost universally admitted dogma. But my dear old friend Sedgwick, with his noble heart, is old, and is rabid with indignation. It is hard to please every one; you may remember that in my last letter I asked you to leave out about the Weald denudation: I told Jukes this (who is head man of the Irish geological survey), and he blamed me much, for he believed every word of it, and thought it not at all exaggerated! In fact, geologists have no means of gauging the infinitude of past time. There has been one prodigy of a review, namely, an OPPOSED one (by Pictet (Francois Jules Pictet, in the 'Archives des Sciences de la Bibliotheque Universelle,' Mars 1860. The article is written in a courteous and considerate tone, and concludes by saying that the 'Origin' will be of real value to naturalists, especially if they are not led away by its seductive arguments to believe in the dangerous doctrine of modification. A passage which seems to have struck my father as being valuable, and opposite which he has made double pencil marks and written the word "good," is worth quoting: "La theorie de M. Darwin s'accorde mal avec l'histoire des types a formes bien tranchees et definies qui paraissent n'avoir vecu que pendant un temps limite. On en pourrait citer des centaines d'exemples, tel que les reptiles volants, les ichthyosaures, les belemnites, les ammonites, etc." Pictet was born in 1809, died 1872; he was Professor of Anatomy and Zoology at Geneva.), the palaeontologist, in the Bib. Universelle of Geneva) which is PERFECTLY fair and just, and I agree to every word he says; our only difference being that he attaches less weight to arguments in favour, and more to arguments opposed, than I do. Of all the opposed reviews, I think this the only quite fair one, and I never expected to see one. Please observe that I do not class your review by any means as opposed, though you think so yourself! It has done me MUCH too good service ever to appear in that rank in my eyes. But I fear I shall weary you with so much about my book. I should rather think there was a good chance of my becoming the most egotistical man in all Europe! What a proud pre-eminence! Well, you have helped to make me so and therefore you must forgive me if you can.

My dear Gray, ever yours most gratefully, C.

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume II Page 43

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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