LIFE AND LETTERS OF CHARLES DARWIN.
THE PUBLICATION OF THE 'ORIGIN OF SPECIES.'
OCTOBER 3, 1859, TO DECEMBER 31, 1859.
[Under the date of October 1st, 1859, in my father's Diary occurs the entry: "Finished proofs (thirteen months and ten days) of Abstract on 'Origin of Species'; 1250 copies printed. The first edition was published on November 24th, and all copies sold first day."
On October 2d he started for a water-cure establishment at Ilkley, near Leeds, where he remained with his family until December, and on the 9th of that month he was again at Down. The only other entry in the Diary for this year is as follows: "During end of November and beginning of December, employed in correcting for second edition of 3000 copies; multitude of letters."
The first and a few of the subsequent letters refer to proof sheets, and to early copies of the 'Origin' which were sent to friends before the book was published.]
C. LYELL TO CHARLES DARWIN. (Part of this letter is given in the 'Life of Sir Charles Lyell,' volume ii. page 325.) October 3d, 1859.
My dear Darwin,
I have just finished your volume and right glad I am that I did my best with Hooker to persuade you to publish it without waiting for a time which probably could never have arrived, though you lived till the age of a hundred, when you had prepared all your facts on which you ground so many grand generalizations.
It is a splendid case of close reasoning, and long substantial argument throughout so many pages; the condensation immense, too great perhaps for the uninitiated, but an effective and important preliminary statement, which will admit, even before your detailed proofs appear, of some occasional useful exemplification, such as your pigeons and cirripedes, of which you make such excellent use.
I mean that, when, as I fully expect, a new edition is soon called for, you may here and there insert an actual case to relieve the vast number of abstract propositions. So far as I am concerned, I am so well prepared to take your statements of facts for granted, that I do not think the "pieces justificatives" when published will make much difference, and I have long seen most clearly that if any concession is made, all that you claim in your concluding pages will follow. It is this which has made me so long hesitate, always feeling that the case of Man and his races, and of other animals, and that of plants is one and the same, and that if a "vera causa" be admitted for one, instead of a purely unknown and imaginary one, such as the word "Creation," all the consequences must follow.
I fear I have not time to-day, as I am just leaving this place, to indulge in a variety of comments, and to say how much I was delighted with Oceanic Islands--Rudimentary Organs--Embryology--the genealogical key to the Natural System, Geographical Distribution, and if I went on I should be copying the heads of all your chapters. But I will say a word of the Recapitulation, in case some slight alteration, or at least, omission of a word or two be still possible in that.
In the first place, at page 480, it cannot surely be said that the most eminent naturalists have rejected the view of the mutability of species? You do not mean to ignore G. St. Hilaire and Lamarck. As to the latter, you may say, that in regard to animals you substitute natural selection for volition to a certain considerable extent, but in his theory of the changes of plants he could not introduce volition; he may, no doubt, have laid an undue comparative stress on changes in physical conditions, and too little on those of contending organisms. He at least was for the universal mutability of species and for a genealogical link between the first and the present. The men of his school also appealed to domesticated varieties. (Do you mean LIVING naturalists?) (In the published copies of the first edition, page 480, the words are "eminent living naturalists.")
The first page of this most important summary gives the adversary an advantage, by putting forth so abruptly and crudely such a startling objection as the formation of "the eye," not by means analogous to man's reason, or rather by some power immeasurably superior to human reason, but by superinduced variation like those of which a cattle-breeder avails himself.