To Andrew Murray 28 April 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Sir
I thank you from my heart for your most kind letter. I never knew or heard of a hostile Reviewer doing so kind & generous an action.—2 I have read your Review, & I am sure I have no grounds whatever to complain, but on the contrary, to thank you for the general manner of speaking of me. I will scribble down a few remarks & corrections; but there is only one of much importance.—3
Of course on the weight of general argument it would be superfluous in me to make any remarks.— If you think my explanations of rudimentary organs or laws of embryology—succession of same forms on same areas &c &c are not true or of no value, there is nothing more to be said.—4 So my few remarks will apply to details.— Believe me that I feel most truly grateful to you for your kindness
My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin
I have put little pencil crosses to your Review, to call your attention to passages if you have patience to read my too lengthy notes.
I shd be very much obliged for a copy when published.—5
Review | p. 276.—6 I presume that you think my discussion (p 173–179) on forms now being distinct is of no value (nor do I value it much; I look at it as my only way of getting out of difficulty) but your Reader would imagine that I had slurred over the difficulty.—
p. 277 Is it right to give your idea of opposites marrying, without any allusion to plants & to the many marine hermaphrodite animals? I heartily wish I could believe in such fine sexual selection that a big & dark Carabus preferred for his wife a small & light-coloured female; or conversely—7
p 278. Have you any grounds for believing that a plant’s own pollen is prepotent over that of another variety (please observe not another species).8 Again I rather wish I could believe this: but it is utterly opposed to all that I have observed & experimentised on.— Is it fair to state this without at least some facts?
p 278. Will you please read my p. 14, 15, & consider whether I speak “defiantly” against reversion.—9 I state I rather believe in it in such case as cabbage; but I earnestly desire some good facts.— I have some, but they are not very strong—(rabbits turned out reverting in colour &c) I think ‘defiantly’ is rather strong, when I give the most striking case from experiments, as far as I know, on record of Reversion in colour at least, in Pigeons.— I have since been experimentising for this sole purpose, & have got grand case in Fowls.—
p 279. For above reasons I think “total or almost total negation of reversion” is rather strong.—10 I simply do not believe so strongly in it as you do.— What I believe is, & as it seems to me all experience shows, that with a very little selection, we can keep our cart-horses, greyhounds & fantail pigeons &c true. To improve them or keep them up to highest standard of merit no doubt very careful selection is requisite; but I know of no facts whatever to lead me to believe that a lot of fantails, without any selection exposed to the same conditions under which they have been reared, would not remain fantails for the next 10, thousand years. It may not be so, but I want some shadow of evidence to make me give up this belief—
p. 284.— With respect to your discussion on absence of links in formations, I suppose it is as fair as it could be made so briefly. It would be hardly possible for you to allude to all the points, such as the impossibility of knowing a link if really found; & the impossibility unless every intermediate gradation were found of our distinguishing a linking variety & species.— I have been much pleased & surprised at finding so many practical geologists, attaching no or very little weight to absence of links in our geological formations, for instance, Lyell, Ramsay, Jukes Rogers.—11 That admirable palæontologist Mr. Salter of the Geolog. Survey showed me 2 or 3 days ago, the Spirifers of Devonian, Lower & Upper Carboniferous formations arranged (not at my request, for I thought he was dead against me) after my diagram in the “Origin”, & it astonished me what a beautiful branching gradation he made by intercalating the varieties & species according to geological age.— 12 Pray remember how many of Al. d’Orbigny’s fine species of shells in successive stages are now sunk into the rank of successive varieties in the estimation of good palæontologists,—for instance of Woodward.—13
p. 285. Here is the only grave misapprehension of my views in your Review.— I by no means believe that the mouth of the Bear (how often that abominable animal has been made to worry me!!) might be increased by use; I referred here exclusively to the “natural selection” of bigger & bigger mouths because advantageous, in this foolish & imaginary illustration.— So if you read my pages on the Bat, you will see that I never dreamed of Galeopithecus gaining its membrane, or the seal its flipper, by use, but by natural selection.14
p 285. I should not rank a treeless plain under physical conditions; the presence of trees, ie of organic beings, I have always ranked under “organic conditions”—15 you will find the paramount importance of “organic conditions” repeated ad nauseam. For organic conditions, as I believe, mainly determine what variations are profitable & what are accordingly naturally selected. This sentence gives a very wrong idea of my views.—
p. 286 You will see at p. 346 347 that I do not speak of S. America & Africa having same conditions, as close as the same species generally require, but only of “certain large tracts” within certain latitudes.—16
p. 286. I wish much you would insert that I never meant to confine my remarks to the insects of the caves. Taking a general view of all inhabitants I doubt whether I am wrong.— I grieve much if I have misunderstood, (God knows it was unintentionally) Schiodte, but I am glad to see that you admit passage is vague.—17 I cannot collect my mind to consider subject now.— You are, of course, very much more likely to be right than I.18 I have, since I published, thought it more probable that as Adelops is blind & is yet found sometimes not in caves, that Anophthalmus might have formerly been a genus fitted for dusky places, & that consequently it was more easily fitted for the caves than any other carabidous insect. I understood, in sense in which you do, Schiödte remark about the gradation in the degree of blindness, & meant no more.—19 Would it be asking you too great a favour to refer me to papers on the several other cases specified by you? It is a load removed from my mind to hear that the species of Anophthalmus are different in the different caves.—20
As I am asking questions, can you tell me how the blind Paussus (or Pausus I forget which) in same country gets from one ants’ nest to another?—21
p. 288. That is a good hit about eyeless state & physical conditions—yet of course I admit in this case the effect of physical conditions. I cannot point out distinction between the effect of physical conditions, as commonly used, & “Disuse”, yet it strikes me that there is some difference.22
p. 289.— Azara most fully confirms my account of the habits of the La Plata Colaptes (p. 184).—23 I was well aware of difference between Colaptes & the typical woodpeckers—but I thought in saying that it agrees in “every essential part of its organisation” I had sufficiently guarded myself. Its undoubted position amongst the woodpeckers seems to me show that it agrees in its essential organisation.24
Has read MS of AM’s review [of Origin, read at Edinburgh Royal Society, 20 Feb 1860]; has no complaints. Has never heard of a hostile reviewer’s doing so kind and generous an action [as sending his MS for CD’s criticism?]. Sends some remarks on details.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2772,” accessed on 24 August 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2772