After abusing me for two or three pages, in language sufficiently plain and emphatic to have satisfied any reasonable man, he sums up by saying that he has vainly searched the English language to find terms to express his contempt for me and all Darwinians.' In another letter, after I had left Down, he writes, 'We often differed, but you are one of those rare mortals from whom one can differ and yet feel no shade of animosity, and that is a thing [of] which I should feel very proud, if any one could say [it] of me.'
"On my last visit to Down, Mr. Darwin said, at his dinner-table, 'Brodie Innes and I have been fast friends for thirty years, and we never thoroughly agreed on any subject but once, and then we stared hard at each other, and thought one of us must be very ill.'"]
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, February 23rd .
My dear Lyell,
That is a splendid answer of the father of Judge Crompton. How curious that the Judge should have hit on exactly the same points as yourself. It shows me what a capital lawyer you would have made, how many unjust acts you would have made appear just! But how much grander a field has science been than the law, though the latter might have made you Lord Kinnordy. I will, if there be another edition, enlarge on gradation in the eye, and on all forms coming from one prototype, so as to try and make both less glaringly improbable...
With respect to Bronn's objection that it cannot be shown how life arises, and likewise to a certain extent Asa Gray's remark that natural selection is not a vera causa, I was much interested by finding accidentally in Brewster's 'Life of Newton,' that Leibnitz objected to the law of gravity because Newton could not show what gravity itself is. As it has chanced, I have used in letters this very same argument, little knowing that any one had really thus objected to the law of gravity. Newton answers by saying that it is philosophy to make out the movements of a clock, though you do not know why the weight descends to the ground. Leibnitz further objected that the law of gravity was opposed to Natural Religion! Is this not curious? I really think I shall use the facts for some introductory remarks for my bigger book.
...You ask (I see) why we do not have monstrosities in higher animals; but when they live they are almost always sterile (even giants and dwarfs are GENERALLY sterile), and we do not know that Harvey's monster would have bred. There is I believe only one case on record of a peloric flower being fertile, and I cannot remember whether this reproduced itself.
To recur to the eye. I really think it would have been dishonest, not to have faced the difficulty; and worse (as Talleyrand would have said), it would have been impolitic I think, for it would have been thrown in my teeth, as H. Holland threw the bones of the ear, till Huxley shut him up by showing what a fine gradation occurred amongst living creatures.
I thank you much for your most pleasant letter.
Yours affectionately, C. DARWIN.
P.S.--I send a letter by Herbert Spencer, which you can read or not as you think fit. He puts, to my mind, the philosophy of the argument better than almost any one, at the close of the letter. I could make nothing of Dana's idealistic notions about species; but then, as Wollaston says, I have not a metaphysical head.
By the way, I have thrown at Wollaston's head, a paper by Alexander Jordan, who demonstrates metaphysically that all our cultivated races are God- created species.
Wollaston misrepresents accidentally, to a wonderful extent, some passages in my book. He reviewed, without relooking at certain passages.
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, February 25th .
...I cannot help wondering at your zeal about my book. I declare to heaven you seem to care as much about my book as I do myself. You have no right to be so eminently unselfish! I have taken off my spit [i.e. file] a letter of Ramsay's, as every geologist convert I think very important. By the way, I saw some time ago a letter from H.D.