Comments on a discussion of humming-birds by the Duke of Argyll [in The reign of law (1867)].
Encloses article by Henry Parker on the Duke's book [Saturday Rev. 23 (1867): 82–4].
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E. June 1
I do not think H. Parker ever reviewed the Origin: perhaps you are thinking of
an article on the D. of Argyll, which I remember praising, perhaps
over-praising, to you.— I now enclose it, & you can look at it or not
as you like, & please return it.— I am at
present reading the Duke & am very much interested by him; yet I cannot
but think, clever as the whole is, that parts are weak, as when he doubts whether each
curvature of beak of Humming Birds is of service to each species. He admits,
perhaps too fully, that I have shown use of each little ridge & shape of each
petal in Orchids, & how strange he does not extend the view to Humming
Birds. Still odder, it seems to me, all that he says on Beauty, which I
I hope you are getting on with your Book, better than I am with mine, which kills me
with the labour of correcting & is intolerably dull, though I did not think so
when I was writing it. A naturalist's life
We shall be in London for a week in about a fortnights time, & I shall enjoy having a break-fast talk with you.—
Yours affectionately | C. Darwin
- f1 05558.f1The year is established by the reference to G. D. Campbell 1867 (see n. 3, below).
- f2 05558.f2No letter from Lyell enquiring about a review by CD's nephew Henry Parker has been found. CD refers to [Parker] 1862, an article in the Saturday Review discussing [G. D. Campbell] 1862, a review of Orchids by the duke of Argyll, George Douglas Campbell. See Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. D. Hooker, [before 29 December 1862] and n. 4, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 29 [December 1862]. No copy of [Parker] 1862 has been found in the Darwin Archive--CUL; there is an annotated copy of [G. D. Campbell] 1862 in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL. No discussion between CD and Lyell on [G. D. Campbell] 1862 has been found, but see Correspondence vol. 13, letter from Charles Lyell, 16 January 1865, and letter to Charles Lyell, 22 January , for their discussion of G. D. Campbell 1864. For more on CD's view of Campbell's arguments, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 February .
- f3 05558.f3CD refers to Campbell's The reign of law (G. D. Campbell 1867); there is an annotated copy in the Darwin Library--CUL (see Marginalia 1: 17). Campbell suggested that specialised beaks did not give the greatest possible advantage to humming-birds, which had equal access to a wide range of flora, and that the rule governing the proliferation of humming-bird species had as its object rather `the mere multiplying of Life, and the fitting of new Forms for new spheres of enjoyment' (G. D. Campbell 1867, pp. 241--2). His discussion of orchids is in ibid., pp. 37--9. He argued that the phenomena of nature would never be understood except on the admission that `mere ornament or beauty' was `in itself a purpose, an object, and an end' (ibid, p. 197), and `was not intended only for Man's admiration' (ibid., p. 199).
- f4 05558.f4Lyell was working on the second volume of the tenth edition of his Principles of geology (C. Lyell 1867--8); see Correspondence vol. 14, letter to Charles Lyell, 1 December , n. 2). CD was correcting the proof-sheets of Variation (see CD's `Journal' (Appendix II)).
- f5 05558.f5The Darwins were in London from 17 to 24 June (CD's `Journal' (Appendix II)). No record has been found of a meeting with Lyell.