I should begin to think myself wholly in the wrong, and that I was an utter fool, but then I cannot yet persuade myself, that Lyell, and you and Huxley, Carpenter, Asa Gray, and Watson, etc., are all fools together. Well, time will show, and nothing but time. Farewell...
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, June 6th .
...It consoles me that -- sneers at Malthus, for that clearly shows, mathematician though he may be, he cannot understand common reasoning. By the way what a discouraging example Malthus is, to show during what long years the plainest case may be misrepresented and misunderstood. I have read the 'Future'; how curious it is that several of my reviewers should advance such wild arguments, as that varieties of dogs and cats do not mingle; and should bring up the old exploded doctrine of definite analogies...I am beginning to despair of ever making the majority understand my notions. Even Hopkins does not thoroughly. By the way, I have been so much pleased by the way he personally alludes to me. I must be a very bad explainer. I hope to Heaven that you will succeed better. Several reviews and several letters have shown me too clearly how little I am understood. I suppose "natural selection" was a bad term; but to change it now, I think, would make confusion worse confounded, nor can I think of a better; "Natural Preservation" would not imply a preservation of particular varieties, and would seem a truism, and would not bring man's and nature's selection under one point of view. I can only hope by reiterated explanations finally to make the matter clearer. If my MS. spreads out, I think I shall publish one volume exclusively on variation of animals and plants under domestication. I want to show that I have not been quite so rash as many suppose.
Though weary of reviews, I should like to see Lowell's (The late J.A. Lowell in the 'Christian Examiner' (Boston, U.S., May, 1860.) some time...I suppose Lowell's difficulty about instinct is the same as Bowen's; but it seems to me wholly to rest on the assumption that instincts cannot graduate as finely as structures. I have stated in my volume that it is hardly possible to know which, i.e. whether instinct or structure, change first by insensible steps. Probably sometimes instinct, sometimes structure. When a British insect feeds on an exotic plant, instinct has changed by very small steps, and their structures might change so as to fully profit by the new food. Or structure might change first, as the direction of tusks in one variety of Indian elephants, which leads it to attack the tiger in a different manner from other kinds of elephants. Thanks for your letter of the 2nd, chiefly about Murray. (N.B. Harvey of Dublin gives me, in a letter, the argument of tall men marrying short women, as one of great weight!)
I do not quite understand what you mean by saying, "that the more they prove that you underrate physical conditions, the better for you, as Geology comes in to your aid."
...I see in Murray and many others one incessant fallacy, when alluding to slight differences of physical conditions as being very important; namely, oblivion of the fact that all species, except very local ones, range over a considerable area, and though exposed to what the world calls considerable DIVERSITIES, yet keep constant. I have just alluded to this in the 'Origin' in comparing the productions of the Old and the New Worlds. Farewell, shall you be at Oxford? If H. gets quite well, perhaps I shall go there.
Yours affectionately, C. DARWIN.
CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down [June 14th, 1860].
...Lowell's review (J.A. Lowell in the 'Christian Examiner,' May 1860.) is pleasantly written, but it is clear that he is not a naturalist. He quite overlooks the importance of the accumulation of mere individual differences, and which, I think I can show, is the great agency of change under domestication. I have not finished Schaaffhausen, as I read German so badly. I have ordered a copy for myself, and should like to keep yours till my own arrives, but will return it to you instantly if wanted.