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Letter 2516

Darwin, C. R. to Dana, J. D.

11 Nov [1859]

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    Has sent JDD a copy of Origin; knows it will horrify him, but hopes JDD will credit him with an honest search for truth. Believes that JDD may come to think there is more to be said "in favour of mutability of species than is at first appreciated".

Transcription

Down Bromley Kent [Ilkley]

Nov. 11th

My dear Sir.

I have sent you a copy of my Book (as yet only an abstract) on the Origin of species. I know too well that the conclusion, at which I have arrived, will horrify you, but you will, I believe & hope, give me credit for at least an honest search after the truth. I hope that you will read my Book, straight through; otherwise from the great condensation it will be unintelligible. Do not, I pray, think me so presumptuous as to hope to convert you; but if you can spare time to read it with care, & will then do what is far more important, keep the subject under my point of view for some little time occasionally before your mind, I have hopes that you will agree that more can be said in favour of the mutability of species, than is at first apparent. It took me many long years before I wholly gave up the common view of the separate creation of each species.

Believe me, with sincere respect & with cordial thanks for the many acts of scientific kindness which I have received from you, | My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2516.f1
    CD had corresponded with Dana, professor of geology at Yale University, since 1849. They had common interests in invertebrate zoology and the formation of coral reefs (see particularly Correspondence vols. 5 and 6). Dana had recently published his belief in the fixity of species (Dana 1857).
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    f2 2516.f2
    Ill health prevented Dana from reading Origin immediately (see letter to J. D. Dana, 30 December [1859]). Subsequent correspondence reveals that Dana was unable to read the book until 1862 (Calendar no. 3845; see also Gilman 1899, p. 311).
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