WBC's review [of Origin, Natl Rev. 10 (1860): 188–214] will do great good. It "turns the flanks of theological opposers" capitally.
Asks for information about cuckoo eggs and West Indian sheep.
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Carpenter
I have just read your excellent article in the National. It
will do great good; especially if it becomes known as your production. It seems to me to
give an excellently clear account of M
With most cordial thanks & respect, Believe me | My dear Carpenter | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
- f1 2641.f1The year is given by the reference to Carpenter's review of Origin (see n. 2, below).
- f2 2641.f2[Carpenter] 1860a. Carpenter told CD in December 1859 that he was going to review Origin (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to W. B. Carpenter, 5 December ).
- f3 2641.f3Although entitled `Darwin on the origin of species', Carpenter's review also discussed Alfred Russel Wallace's contribution to Darwin and Wallace 1858 and Baden Powell's consideration of the species question (Powell 1855).
- f4 2641.f4Carpenter attempted to place the doctrine of transmutation in perspective by comparing it to the recent results of systematists like George Bentham, who had greatly reduced the number of reputed species by reassessing variations that earlier taxonomists regarded as an indication of specific differences. Carpenter went on to state ([Carpenter] 1860a, p. 193):
We do not expect to see, even in our ``most straitest'' sectarian organs, any accusations brought against Mr. Bentham for impiety, because he affirms that three or four hundred of the reputed species of British plants are really descendants of others from which they have gradually diverged.
- f5 2641.f5Carpenter was one of the leading figures in comparative anatomy and physiology. He discussed in great detail the embryological doctrines of Karl Ernst von Baer in the fourth edition of his Principles of comparative physiology (Carpenter 1854). CD owned a copy of this work (Darwin Library--CUL) and studied it carefully in 1855 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 12). In his Autobiography, p. 125, CD remarked how disappointed he had been that no reviewers commented on the embryological arguments put forward in Origin, pp. 439--50: `Hardly any point gave me so much satisfaction when I was at work on the Origin, as the explanation of the wide difference in many classes between the embryo and the adult animal, and of the close resemblance of the embryos within the same class.' See also Correspondence vol. 7, letter to J. D. Hooker, 14 December .
- f6 2641.f6Carpenter discussed the differently coloured eggs of cuckoos as an example of the natural specialisation of habit, stating ([Carpenter] 1860a, pp. 204--5):
Recent observations on the Cuckoo have shown that this bird deposits its eggs in the nests of no fewer than twenty-eight different species, and that the cuckoo's egg almost invariably agrees so closely in colour with the eggs among which it is laid, as only to be distinguished from them by a practised eye.
- f7 2641.f7Carpenter gave as an illustration of acclimatisation the case of Leicestershire sheep introduced to the West Indies, which had `their thick matted fleeces replaced in a year or two by short crisp hair' ([Carpenter] 1860a, p. 195).