Origin has "stirred up the mud with a vengeance"; AG and three or four others have saved CD from annihilation and are responsible for the attention now given to the subject. Reports events at Oxford BAAS meeting.
New evidence supports AG's view of a warm post-glacial period.
Discusses his recent orchid observations.
Poses AG a question on design in nature.
Down Bromley Kent [Sudbrook Park]
My dear Gray
I received the mathematical papers, for which many thanks,
but have not yet had time to try to understand them: Your letter of
Yesterday I had letter from Hooker at B. Assoc
Owen will not prove right, when he said that the whole subject would be forgotten in 10 years. My book has stirred up the mud with a vengeance; & it will be a blessing to me if all my friends do not get to hate me. But I look at it as certain, if I had not stirred up the mud some one else would very soon; so that the sooner the battle is fought the sooner it will be settled,— not that the subject will be settled in our lives' times. It will be an immense gain, if the question becomes a fairly open one; so that each man may try his new facts on it pro & contra.—
Very many thanks about N.Y. Times; I daresay you will be disappointed with the Article; & I cannot for the life of me tell what it is that struck Lyell & me on it— I hope I may find it at home when I return there in 3 or 4 days.— I will order the two numbers of the Atlantic when I know which months contain your Articles; as I shall be very anxious to see them.
I have just reread your letter: in truth I am myself quite conscious that my mind is in simple muddle about ``designed laws'' & ``undesigned consequences''.— Does not Kant say that there are several subjects on which directly opposite conclusions can be proved true?!
I forgot to say that in Fraser's Magazine for July, there is strong article by our great man W. Hopkins. It is written with very fair spirit & with not more of the arrogance of a mathematician, than might have been expected. I have remonstrated with him for so coolly saying that I base my views on what I rank as great difficulties.—
Anyone by taking these difficulties alone can make a most strong case against me. I could myself write a more damning Review than has as yet appeared! On question of Hybridity he passes over the insensibly fine gradation from utter sterility to complete fertility—,—the fertility (W. Herbert) of some hybrids,—& the sterility of the vars. of Verbascum (G¨artner) & of the vars. of Tobacco (K¨olreuter), which latter facts you, by the way, never notice.— Your letters are great pleasure to me, but pray do not write whilst so overworked.—
I have this minute had letter from Lyell; who is just starting for continent; on his
return he is going to investigate reported cases of Hippopotamus subsequent to
Glacial epoch: he finds Falconer & Prestwich now believe in this remarkable
fact; if so there has probably been in Europe a period subsequent to Glacial
warmer. Do you remember my saying that I hoped I
Do you know Hookers paper in Phil. Transact on Listera; he misapprehended meaning of his facts. I find the rostellum so delicate that the explosion takes place by touch of human-hair, & the fluid sets hard in under two seconds. It was really beautiful to see a little Sphex licking the labellum, & as soon as its head touched the rostellum the explosion took-place, & the insect crawled out with the 2 pollen-masses cemented to its forehead, ready to impregnate next flower into which it crawled.
One word more on ``designed laws'' & ``undesigned results''. I see a bird which
I want for food, take my gun & kill it, I do this
designedly.— An innocent & good man stands
under tree & is killed by flash of lightning. Do you believe (& I really
Your muddled & affectionate friend | Ch. Darwin
- f1 2855.f1Gray had sent CD the June 1860 issue of a New York periodical, the Mathematical Monthly. It contained an article by the mathematician Chauncey Wright entitled `The economy and symmetry of the honey-bees' cells' (Wright 1860). This issue of the Mathematical Monthly is in DAR 48: 48--61; Wright's paper was annotated by CD.
- f2 2855.f2Gray's letter has not been found. CD took the water-cure at Sudbrook Park, Richmond, Surrey, from 28 June to 7 July 1860 (`Journal'; Appendix II).
- f3 2855.f3Gray was preparing an essay surveying the reviews of Origin (see letter to Asa Gray, 8 June ). It was published as the last part of his anonymous three-part article in the Atlantic Monthly ([Gray] 1860b).
- f4 2855.f4See letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 July 1860.
- f5 2855.f5Draper 1860.
- f6 2855.f6See preceding letter and n. 3.
- f7 2855.f7CD had asked Gray to procure a copy of the New York Times, 28 March , which contained a review of Origin. See letter to Asa Gray, 25 April  and n. 5.
- f8 2855.f8[Gray] 1860b comprised three articles that were published in the July, August, and October issues of the Atlantic Monthly. Annotated copies of the articles are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL.
- f9 2855.f9In the third of his articles, Gray addressed this point ([Gray] 1860b, p. 414), stating that CD used:
expressions which seem to imply that the natural forms which surround us, because they have a history or natural sequence, could have been only generally, but not particularly designed,—a view at once superficial and contradictory; whereas his true line should be, that his hypothesis concerns the order and not the cause, the how and not the why of the phenomena, and so leaves the question of design just where it was before.The passage is marked in CD's copy of the work.
- f10 2855.f10In the Critique of pure reason (Kant 1781), Immanuel Kant called certain transcendental ideas `antinomies of pure reason', or pairs of contradictory metaphysical ideas, each of which could be conclusively proved. CD's knowledge of Kant's writings was probably drawn from Whewell 1840.
- f11 2855.f11Hopkins 1860. CD's letter to William Hopkins has not been found, but see letter to Charles Lyell, 5 [July 1860].
- f12 2855.f12CD discussed the work of William Herbert, Karl Friedrich von G¨artner, and Joseph Gottlieb K¨olreuter in Origin, pp. 246--50. Their respective investigations into hybridism were also extensively discussed in his `big book' on species (Natural selection).
- f13 2855.f13Charles Lyell's letter has not been found. He left England on 6 July 1860 for a tour in France, Belgium, and Germany. His purpose was to investigate the flint implements and fossils first discovered by Jacques Boucher de Cr`evecoeur de Perthes. Before his departure, Lyell had discussed the possibility of a second post-glacial warm period with Hugh Falconer and Joseph Prestwich (see Wilson ed. 1970, pp. 452--5, 460). The subject had arisen after fossilised bones of the extant African elephant were found in association with those of extinct species in caves near Palermo. See letter from Hugh Falconer, 9 July 1860, and K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 334--5.
- f14 2855.f14See Correspondence vol. 7, letters to Asa Gray, 11 November  and 24 December ; see also letter to Asa Gray, 7 January .
- f15 2855.f15Hooker 1854b.