To T. H. Huxley 27 November 1
Ilkley Wells House— Otley Yorkshire
My dear Huxley.
Gä rtner grand— Kölreuter grand, but papers scattered through many volumes & very lengthy: I had to make abstract of whole.—2 Herbert volume on Amaryllidaceæ very good & two excellent paper in Hort. Journal.—3 For animals no resume to be trusted at all: facts have to be collected from all original sources.— I fear my M.S for bigger book (twice or thrice as long as in present book) with all references, would I fear be illegible, but it would save you infinite labour: of course I would gladly lend it; but I have no copy so care would have to be taken of it. But my accursed handwriting would be fatal I fear.—
About Breeding I know of no one Book.— I did not think well of Lowe, but I can name none better.4 Youatt I look at as far better & more practical authority; but then his views & facts are scattered through 3 or 4 thick volumes.5 I have picked up most by reading really numberless special treatises & all Agricultural & Horticultural Journals; but it is work of long years.6 The difficulty is to know what to trust. No one or two statements are worth a farthing,—the facts are so complicated. I hope & think I have been really cautious in what I state on this subject, though all that I have given, as yet, is far too briefly.—
I have found it very important associating with fanciers & breeders.— For instance I sat one evening in a gin-palace in the Borough amongst a set of Pigeon-fanciers,—when it was hinted that Mr Bult had crossed his Powters with Runts to gain size;7 & if you had seen the solemn, the mysterious & awful shakes of the head which all the fanciers gave at this scandalous proceeding, you would have recognised how little crossing has had to do with improving breeds, & how dangerous for endless generations the process was.— All this was brought home far more vividly than by pages of mere statements &c— But I am scribbling foolishly. I really do not know how to advise about getting up facts on breeding & improving breeds— Go to shows is one way— Read all treatise on any one domestic animal & believe nothing without largely confirmed.— For your lecture I can give you a few amusing anecdotes & sentences, if you want to make audience laugh.—
I thank you particularly for telling me what naturalists think. If we can once make a compact set of believers we shall in time conquer. I am eminently glad Ramsay is on our side—for he is, in my opinion, first-rate geologist.—8 I sent him copy, I hope he got it— I shall be very curious to hear whether any effect has been produced on Prestwick—9 I sent him copy, not as friend, but owing to a sentence or two in some paper, which made me suspect he was doubting.—
Revd C. Kingsley has a mind to come round.10 Quatrefages write that he goes some long way with me: says he exhibited diagram like mine—11
With most hearty thanks | Your very tired | C. Darwin
Sends references for materials useful for THH’s lecture.
Breeding and crossing. Pigeon fanciers.
Responses to Origin: A. C. Ramsay, Charles Kingsley, Quatrefages de Bréau.
- Letter no.
- Charles Robert Darwin
- Thomas Henry Huxley
- Sent from
- Source of text
- Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine Archives (Huxley 5: 76)
- Physical description