To Charles Lyell 27 and 28 April 1
Down Bromley Kent
Ap. 27th. —
My dear Lyell
Thanks for Newberry:2 I will read it in about a week’s time & will keep it, if useful to me; otherwise will return it to you.— I quite agree that the non-comittal men do not always most help on science.
I sent you a day or two ago, the clever review by Laugel3 & President of Tyneside Naturalists’ Address.—4
With respect to Dogs (& several other domestic animals) I have always thought the case must remain doubtful, but I think the argument strongly preponderate in favour of the multiple origin.5 I shd. not like to commit myself to names until I can weigh all the evidence in mass. I do not at all believe that Owen did not know perfectly well some of the wild Canidæ to which I alluded.6 The case has been too often discussed from time of Pallas to present day for him not to know.7 Looking to Dogs of world, I believe in their blood, more or less mingled, there is the blood of the European Wolf—two very distinct N. American wolves; probably the Guyana dog or wolf; probably (for I think argument of Pallas & lately of Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire have much weight) of several so-called species or wild races of Jackall.—8
I will compile facts in my present volume;9 but it seems to me more prudent not to enter on detail on this doubtful subject in the Origin.—
Dawson’s remark on variability of Canidæ may be true, but I suspect he would find it very hard to prove.—10
My dear Lyell | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin
Please return the 3 Reviews whenever you have quite done with them.
P.S.— Apr. 28th | I have received your various budgets. I am extremely obliged for drawings & have sent them to Paris, with strictest injunctions about care & their return.—11
I presume that Carpenter would call the Vertebrata a class, & the Birds an order; but this certainly is not usual.12 But to estimate the values of groups has always been found hopelessly difficult.—
The case of Spitz Dog is (from me probably) originally from Bechstein,13 but no particulars are given.— I think the Sheep & Goat in Chile is nearest case of reversion to one pure parent by repeated crosses.— But no one can doubt that this could be easily effected, seeing that the number of generations in which it can be done with various plants was well ascertained by Gartner & I think by Kolreuter.—14 By the way it has been effected with the very distinct Phasianus colchicus & versicolor,—not that I have compared the reverted breed with the original.—15
I see that I have misunderstood you, & you mean reversion when the hybrids are bred inter se. The case you allude to seems very wonderful & improbable, & I must endeavour to find out where described. It almost passes my belief!
I have been much interested by your closing remarks. I cannot explain why, but to me it would be an infinite satisfaction to believe that mankind will progress to such a pitch, that we shd. be looked back at as mere Barbarians.—16 I have received proof-sheets (with a wonderfully nice letter) of very hostile review by Andrew Murray, read before Royal Soc. of Edinburgh.—17 But I am tired with answering it. Indeed I have done nothing this whole day but write letters, so no more.—
My dear Lyell | Ever Yours | C. D.
Thanks CL for loan of paper by J. S. Newberry ["Notes on the ancient vegetation of N. America", Am. J. Sci. 2d ser. 29 (1860): 208–18].
Mentions reviews of the Origin.
Discusses evolution of the domestic dog, especially with respect to the views of Owen, Pallas, and Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire.
Mentions W. B. Carpenter’s views on taxonomy.
Discusses hybridisation of plants and animals.
Comments on progress in human evolution.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2771,” accessed on 9 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2771