Comments on CL's advice not to reply directly to reviews.
Describes work on his Drosera manuscript.
Work delayed on his "larger book" [Variation].
Comments at length on the evolutionary significance of Robert McDonnell's investigations ["On an organ in the skate", Nat. Hist. Rev. (1861): 57–60].
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Lyell
I thank you much for your letter. I had got to take pleasure in thinking how I could best snub my Reviewers; but I was determined in any case to follow your advice, & before I had got to the end of your letter I was convinced of the wisdom of your advice. What an advantage it is to me to have such friend as you.— I shall follow every hint in your letter exactly.—
I have just heard from Murray; he says he sold 700 copies at his sale,
& that he has not half the number to supply; so that I must begin at once. But I will & must finish my Drosera M.S. which
will take me a week, for at this present moment I care more about Drosera than the
origin of all the species in the world. But I will not publish on Drosera till next
year, for I am frightened & astounded at my results.— I declare it is a certain fact, that one organ is so sensitive to
touch that a weight of
Farewell my wisest & best of Lord Chancellors.
Yours most truly obliged | C. Darwin
Etty goes on pretty well. All the Doctors say any rapid progress is impossible.—
All this dreadful illness for last six months (& that wicked dear little Drosera) has made any progress in my larger Book almost nothing—
P.S. I must tell you one little fact which has pleased me. You may remember
that I adduce Electrical Organs of Fish, as one of the greatest difficulties which had
occurred to me, & Owen notices the passage in a singularly disingenous
spirit. Well M
Some friend who is much opposed to me seems to have crowed over
- f1 2996.f1The letter has not been found.
- f2 2996.f2See letter to Charles Lyell, 20 November .
- f3 2996.f3CD refers to the new, third edition of Origin, which John Murray had called for. See letters to T. H. Huxley, 22 November , and to John Murray, 22 [November 1860].
- f4 2996.f4In fact, CD delayed publication until 1875, when Insectivorous plants appeared. He did, however, read a paper on the subject at a meeting of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society in February 1861 (Bonney 1919, p. 154). See also letter to Daniel Oliver, 16 November .
- f5 2996.f5The passage was rather in Samuel Wilberforce's anonymous review of Origin ([Wilberforce] 1860, p. 246). Wilberforce had been primed on the scientific objections to CD's views by Richard Owen. The passage reads, in part: `We see no possible solution on the Darwinian theory for the presence at once so marked and so exceptional of these organs.' Wilberforce went on to state that CD's confession of ignorance was `a solution which could of course equally make the scheme it is intended to serve compatible with any other contradiction.' There is an annotated copy of [Wilberforce] 1860 in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL.
- f6 2996.f6The letter from Robert M'Donnell has not been found, but see the letters to T. H. Huxley, 16 November  and 22 November .
- f7 2996.f7M'Donnell described his discoveries in M'Donnell 1860 and 1861.