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Letter 2882

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

30 July [1860]

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    Has been able to do nothing in science of late due to illness [of Henrietta].

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    When JDD reads Origin, CD knows he will be opposed to it, but he will be liberal and philosophical, which is more than he can say for his English opponents.

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    Has not yet seen L. Agassiz's attack, but in principle avoids answering.

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    No one understands Origin so well as Asa Gray.

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    At BAAS meeting at Oxford, CD's side seems almost to have got the best of the battle.


Down Bromley Kent [Hartfield]

July 30th

My dear Sir

I received several weeks ago your note telling me that you could not visit England, which I sincerely regretted, as I should most heartily have liked to have made your personal acquaintance.— You gave me an improved, but not very good, account of your health. I shd. at some time be grateful for a line to tell me how you are.—

We have had a miserable summer owing to a terribly long & severe illness of my eldest girl, who improves slightly but is still in a precarious condition.—

I have been able to do nothing in science of late. My kind friend Asa Gray often writes to me & tells me of the warm discussions on origin of species in the U. States.—   Whenever you are strong enough to read it, I know you will be dead against me, but I know equally well that your opposition will be liberal & philosophical. And this is a good deal more than I can say of all my opponents in this country. I have not yet seen Agassiz's attack; but I hope to find it at home, when I return in few days, for I have been for several weeks away from home on my daughter's account. Prof. Silliman sent me an extremely kind message by Asa Gray that your Journal wd. be open to a reply by me; I cannot decide till I see it, but on principle I have resolved to avoid answering anything, as it consumes much time, often temper, & I have said my say in the Origin.—   No one person understands my views & has defended them so well as A. Gray;—though he does not by any means go all the way with me.—   There was much discussion on subject at B. Assoc. at Oxford; & I had many defenders & my side seems (for I was not there) almost to have got the best of the battle.—   Your correspondent & my neighbour J. Lubbock goes on working at such spare time as he has.—

This is an egotistical note; but I have not seen a naturalist for months. Most sincerely & deeply do I hope that this note may find you almost recovered.

Pray believe me | Yours very truly | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2882.f1
    Dana was convalescing in Italy following a breakdown in his health (DAB). CD had sent Dana a presentation copy of Origin (see Appendix III and Correspondence vol. 7, letter to J. D. Dana, 11 November [1859]). For CD's concern about Dana's health and his wish that Dana should not read Origin until he was well enough, see ibid., letter to J. D. Dana, 30 December [1859].
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    f2 2882.f2
    Louis Agassiz criticised CD's views in the third volume of his Contributions to the natural history of the United States of America (Agassiz 1857--62). The discussion, taken from advance sheets of the volume, was printed in the American Journal of Science and Arts 2d ser. 30 (1860): 142--55; it was also printed in Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3d ser. 6 (1860): 219--32. There is an annotated copy of the American Journal of Science and Arts article in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL. For CD's opinion of Agassiz's `attack', see the letter to T. H. Huxley, 8 August [1860].
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    f3 2882.f3
    Benjamin Silliman Jr, professor of chemistry at Yale University, was Dana's brother-in-law. He and Dana co-edited the American Journal of Science and Arts.
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