LYELL. Down [February 15th, 1860].
...I am perfectly convinced (having read this morning) that the review in the 'Annals' (Annals and Mag. of Nat. Hist. third series, vol. 5, page 132. My father has obviously taken the expression "pestilent" from the following passage (page 138): "But who is this Nature, we have a right to ask, who has such tremendous power, and to whose efficiency such marvellous performances are ascribed? What are her image and attributes, when dragged from her wordy lurking-place? Is she aught but a pestilent abstraction, like dust cast in our eyes to obscure the workings of an Intelligent First Cause of all?" The reviewer pays a tribute to my father's candour, "so manly and outspoken as almost to 'cover a multitude of sins.'" The parentheses (to which allusion is made above) are so frequent as to give a characteristic appearance to Mr. Wollaston's pages.) is by Wollaston; no one else in the world would have used so many parentheses. I have written to him, and told him that the "pestilent" fellow thanks him for his kind manner of speaking about him. I have also told him that he would be pleased to hear that the Bishop of Oxford says it is the most unphilosophical (Another version of the words is given by Lyell, to whom they were spoken, viz. "the most illogical book ever written."--'Life,' volume ii. page 358.) work he ever read. The review seems to me clever, and only misinterprets me in a few places. Like all hostile men, he passes over the explanation given of Classification, Morphology, Embryology, and Rudimentary Organs, etc. I read Wallace's paper in MS. ("On the Zoological Geography of the Malay Archipelago."--Linn. Soc. Journ. 1860.), and thought it admirably good; he does not know that he has been anticipated about the depth of intervening sea determining distribution...The most curious point in the paper seems to me that about the African character of the Celebes productions, but I should require further confirmation...
Henslow is staying here; I have had some talk with him; he is in much the same state as Bunbury (The late Sir Charles Bunbury, well-known as a Palaeo-botanist.), and will go a very little way with us, but brings up no real argument against going further. He also shudders at the eye! It is really curious (and perhaps is an argument in our favour) how differently different opposers view the subject. Henslow used to rest his opposition on the imperfection of the Geological Record, but he now thinks nothing of this, and says I have got well out of it; I wish I could quite agree with him. Baden Powell says he never read anything so conclusive as my statement about the eye!! A stranger writes to me about sexual selection, and regrets that I boggle about such a trifle as the brush of hair on the male turkey, and so on. As L. Jenyns has a really philosophical mind, and as you say you like to see everything, I send an old letter of his. In a later letter to Henslow, which I have seen, he is more candid than any opposer I have heard of, for he says, though he CANNOT go so far as I do, yet he can give no good reason why he should not. It is funny how each man draws his own imaginary line at which to halt. It reminds me so vividly what I was told (By Professor Henslow.) about you when I first commenced geology--to believe a LITTLE, but on no account to believe all.
Ever yours affectionately, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO ASA GRAY. Down, February 18th .
My dear Gray,
I received about a week ago two sheets of your Review (The 'American Journal of Science and Arts,' March, 1860. Reprinted in 'Darwiniana,' 1876.); read them, and sent them to Hooker; they are now returned and re- read with care, and to-morrow I send them to Lyell. Your Review seems to me ADMIRABLE; by far the best which I have read. I thank you from my heart both for myself, but far more for the subject's sake. Your contrast between the views of Agassiz and such as mine is very curious and instructive. (The contrast is briefly summed up thus: "The theory of Agassiz regards the origin of species and their present general distribution over the world as equally primordial, equally supernatural; that of Darwin as equally derivative, equally natural."--'Darwiniana,' page 14.) By the way, if Agassiz writes anything on the subject, I hope you will tell me.