(3) And chiefly from this view connecting under an intelligible point of view a host of facts. When we descend to details, we can prove that no one species has changed [i.e. we cannot prove that a single species has changed]; nor can we prove that the supposed changes are beneficial, which is the groundwork of the theory. Nor can we explain why some species have changed and others have not. The latter case seems to me hardly more difficult to understand precisely and in detail than the former case of supposed change. Bronn may ask in vain, the old creationist school and the new school, why one mouse has longer ears than another mouse, and one plant more pointed leaves than another plant.
CHARLES DARWIN TO G. BENTHAM. Down, June 19 .
My dear Bentham,
I have been extremely much pleased and interested by your address, which you kindly sent me. It seems to be excellently done, with as much judicial calmness and impartiality as the Lord Chancellor could have shown. But whether the "immutable" gentlemen would agree with the impartiality may be doubted, there is too much kindness shown towards me, Hooker, and others, they might say. Moreover I verily believe that your address, written as it is, will do more to shake the unshaken and bring on those leaning to our side, than anything written directly in favour of transmutation. I can hardly tell why it is, but your address has pleased me as much as Lyell's book disappointed me, that is, the part on species, though so cleverly written. I agree with all your remarks on the reviewers. By the way, Lecoq (Author of 'Geographie Botanique.' 9 vols. 1854-58.) is a believer in the change of species. I, for one, can conscientiously declare that I never feel surprised at any one sticking to the belief of immutability; though I am often not a little surprised at the arguments advanced on this side. I remember too well my endless oscillations of doubt and difficulty. It is to me really laughable when I think of the years which elapsed before I saw what I believe to be the explanation of some parts of the case; I believe it was fifteen years after I began before I saw the meaning and cause of the divergence of the descendants of any one pair. You pay me some most elegant and pleasing compliments. There is much in your address which has pleased me much, especially your remarks on various naturalists. I am so glad that you have alluded so honourably to Pasteur. I have just read over this note; it does not express strongly enough the interest which I have felt in reading your address. You have done, I believe, a real good turn to the RIGHT SIDE. Believe me, dear Bentham,
Yours very sincerely, CH. DARWIN.
[In my father's diary for 1864 is the entry, "Ill all January, February, March." About the middle of April (seven months after the beginning of the illness in the previous autumn) his health took a turn for the better. As soon as he was able to do any work, he began to write his papers on Lythrum, and on Climbing Plants, so that the work which now concerns us did not begin until September, when he again set to work on 'Animals and Plants.' A letter to Sir J.D. Hooker gives some account of the re- commencement of the work: "I have begun looking over my old MS., and it is as fresh as if I had never written it; parts are astonishingly dull, but yet worth printing, I think; and other parts strike me as very good. I am a complete millionaire in odd and curious little facts, and I have been really astounded at my own industry whilst reading my chapters on Inheritance and Selection. God knows when the book will ever be completed, for I find that I am very weak and on my best days cannot do more than one or one and a half hours' work. It is a good deal harder than writing about my dear climbing plants."
In this year he received the greatest honour which a scientific man can receive in this country--the Copley Medal of the Royal Society. It is presented at the Anniversary Meeting on St. Andrew's Day (November 30), the medalist being usually present to receive it, but this the state of my father's health prevented.