Responds to Owen's remarks that his book [Origin] is not likely to be true because it attempts to explain so much. CD describes how, for fear this might be so, he resolved to give up the work if he could not convince two or three competent judges. He is sensitive because of unjust things said by a distinguished friend [A. Sedgwick]. Value of his views now depends on men eminent in science.
Down Bromley Kent
My notes for latter chapters are a chaos, but I bethought me to look in large
You made a remark in our conversation something to the effect that my book could not probably be true as it attempted to explain so much.— I can only answer that this might be objected to any view embracing two or three classes of facts.— Yet I assure you that its truth has often & often weighed heavily on me; & I have thought that perhaps my book might be a case like Macleay's Quinarian system. So strongly did I feel this, that I resolved to give it all up, as far as I could, if I did not convince at least 2 or 3 competent judges.—
You smiled at me for sticking myself up as a martyr; but I assure you, if you had heard
the unmerciful & I think unjust things said of my Book & to me in a
letter by an old & very distinguished friend, you would not wonder at me being
sensitive, perhaps ridiculously sensitive.— Forgive
these remarks: I sh
Believe me | Yours very truly | C. Darwin
- f1 2580.f1Dated by the reference to CD's recent conversation with Owen. See letter to Richard Owen, 10 December .
- f2 2580.f2CD refers to the first edition of Charles Lyell's Principles of geology (C. Lyell 1830–3), volume 3 of which was published in 1833. The passage given in the letter is in C. Lyell 1830–3, 3: 144, in which Lyell refers to Clift 1831. CD's copy of Lyell 1830–3 is in the Darwin Library–CUL. CD had commented on William Clift's paper on fossil remains from Australia in Notebook C, p. 131 (Notebooks). Owen, who had married Clift's daughter, succeeded him as conservator of the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons.
- f3 2580.f3William Sharp Macleay's quinarian system of classification had been enthusiastically taken up by a small number of naturalists, but extensively criticised by others. Earlier in the year CD expressed his hope that his work would not be subject to the same controversy as that between Macleay and John Fleming (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 15 October ). CD discussed Macleay's work, particularly Macleay 1819–21, in detail in his notebooks (Notebooks). See also Correspondence vols. 2 and 4.
- f4 2580.f4Letter from Adam Sedgwick, 24 November 1859.