To Charles Lyell 18 May 
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Lyell
I send letter from Asa Gray to show how hotly battle rages there.— Also one from Wallace, very just in his remarks, though too laudatory & too modest, & how admirably free from envy or jealousy.— He must be a good fellow. Perhaps I will enclose letter from Thomson of Calcutta, not that it is much, but Hooker thinks so highly of him.—1
Many thanks for your interesting letter of 15th.2 What interesting facts are turning up about man!— With respect to Rabbit & Hares; Lewis takes the account from Isid. G. St. Hilaire:3 I have not yet looked at original account; such good men are concerned that I think there can be no mistake. Yet I shall not be satisfied till I hear how he got his first hybrids.— There is an old variety called Hare-rabbit— A good naturalist once assured me he had found hybrid pheasant-fowls perfectly fertile int se; after a time I found out that he had bought the first cross, & this supposed cross was the variety called “pheasant-fowl” & which does resemble the pheasant considerably.— Some time when you have done with it I shd much like to see Schaafhausen pamphlet on natural selection.—4
I have ordered Canadian Mag;5 but if I cannot get it, will borrow yours.—
Henslow informs me that Sedgwick & then Prof. Clarke made a regular & savage onslaught on my Book lately at Cambridge Phil. Soc. but Henslow seems to have defended me well, & maintained that the subject was a quite legitimate one for investigation.—6 Since then Phillips has given lecture at Cambridge on same subject, but treated it very fairly.7 How splendidly Asa Gray is fighting the battle.8 The effect on me of these multiplied attacks is simply to show me that the subject is worth fighting for, & assuredly I will do my best. But ill-health & multifarious interrutions make my progress excessively slow.— I can very plainly see, as I lately told Hooker, that my Book would have been & be a mere flash in the pan, were it not for you, Hooker & a few others.— I hope all the attacks make you keep up your courage; & courage you assuredly will require.
Etty to day has been a shade better.9 Tomorrow or Sunday makes 3 weeks.— It has been dreadfully harassing to us. She has not suffered much, except the pitiable weariness of so long a fever.—
My dear Lyell | Yours affect | C. Darwin
I have read some of Godron.—10 He strikes me as rather common-place, which surprises me as he wrote capital paper on means of Distribution of plants.—11 He puts the old case well that mere physical conditions do very little in modifying organic forms.—
I have just received 8 Pages of verses, anonymous, apparently well done, quizzing & lauding my Book & me, but I have hardly read them. They have been copied so I cannot recognise hand-writing.—12
I forget whether I told you that there was very good & long quiz in Manchester newspaper some time ago, showing that I had proved that “might was right” was the universal law of nature.—13
Comments on enclosed letters from Asa Gray and Wallace [missing].
Discusses hybrid fertility in rabbits and hares, and pheasants and fowls.
Asks about paper by Hermann Schaaffhausen ["Über Beständigkeit u. Umwandlung der Arten", Verh. Naturhist. Ver. Preuss. Rheinlande 10 (1853): 420–51].
Mentions criticism by Sedgwick and William Clark at Cambridge Philosophical Society.
Notes importance of CL and Hooker in defending Origin.
Comments on papers by D. A. Godron ["Considérations sur les migrations des végétaux", Acad. Stanislas Mem. Soc. Sci. Nancy (1853): 329–67].
Mentions receiving anonymous verses.
A Manchester newspaper lampoon shows CD has proved "might makes right" to be a universal law.
- fertility and/or sterility
- mineralogy, minerals
- negative attitude/assessment
- positive attitude/assessment
- queries / requests
- reception of Darwinism
- species, speciation
- theory (including philosophy)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2806,” accessed on 29 August 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2806