From assistance rendered me, I consider myself bound to send copies to: (1) Bosquet of Maestricht, (2) Milne Edwards, (3) Dana, (4) Agassiz, (5) Muller, (6) W. Dunker of Hesse Cassel. Now I have five or six other copies to distribute, and will you be so very kind as to help me? I had thought of Von Siebold, Loven, d'Orbigny, Kolliker, Sars, Kroyer, etc., but I know hardly anything about any of them.
My second question, it is merely a chance whether you can answer,--it is whether I can send these books or any of them (in some cases accompanied by specimens), through the Royal Society: I have some vague idea of having heard that the Royal Society did sometimes thus assist members.
I have just been reading your review of the "Vestiges" (34/2. In his chapter on the "Reception of the Origin of Species" ("Life and Letters," II., pages 188-9), Mr. Huxley wrote: "and the only review I ever have qualms of conscience about, on the ground of needless savagery, is one I wrote on the 'Vestiges.'" The article is in the "British and Foreign Medico-chirurgical Review," XIII., 1854, page 425. The "great man" referred to below is Owen: see Huxley's review, page 439, and Huxley's "Life." I., page 94.), and the way you handle a great Professor is really exquisite and inimitable. I have been extremely interested in other parts, and to my mind it is incomparably the best review I have read on the "Vestiges"; but I cannot think but that you are rather hard on the poor author. I must think that such a book, if it does no other good, spreads the taste for Natural Science.
But I am perhaps no fair judge, for I am almost as unorthodox about species as the "Vestiges" itself, though I hope not quite so unphilosophical. How capitally you analyse his notion about law. I do not know when I have read a review which interested me so much. By Heavens, how the blood must have gushed into the capillaries when a certain great man (whom with all his faults I cannot help liking) read it!
I am rather sorry you do not think more of Agassiz's embryological stages (34/3. See "Origin," Edition VI., page 310: also Letter 40, Note.), for though I saw how exceedingly weak the evidence was, I was led to hope in its truth.
LETTER 35. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down .
With respect to "highness" and "lowness," my ideas are only eclectic and not very clear. It appears to me that an unavoidable wish to compare all animals with men, as supreme, causes some confusion; and I think that nothing besides some such vague comparison is intended, or perhaps is even possible, when the question is whether two kingdoms such as the Articulata or Mollusca are the highest. Within the same kingdom I am inclined to think that "highest" usually means that form which has undergone most "morphological differentiation" from the common embryo or archetype of the class; but then every now and then one is bothered (as Milne Edwards has remarked) by "retrograde development," i.e., the mature animal having fewer and less important organs than its own embryo. The specialisation of parts to different functions, or "the division of physiological labour" (35/1. A slip of the pen for "physiological division of labour.") of Milne Edwards exactly agrees (and to my mind is the best definition, when it can be applied) with what you state is your idea in regard to plants. I do not think zoologists agree in any definite ideas on this subject; and my ideas are not clearer than those of my brethren.
LETTER 36. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, July 2nd .
I have had the house full of visitors, and when I talk I can do absolutely nothing else; and since then I have been poorly enough, otherwise I should have answered your letter long before this, for I enjoy extremely discussing such points as those in your last note. But what a villain you are to heap gratuitous insults on my ELASTIC theory: you might as well call the virtue of a lady elastic, as the virtue of a theory accommodating in its favours. Whatever you may say, I feel that my theory does give me some advantages in discussing these points.