To A. R. Wallace 18 May 1860
Down Bromley Kent
May 18th 1860
My dear Mr Wallace
I received this morning your letter from Amboyna dated Feb. 16th, containing some remarks & your too high approbation of my book.1 Your letter has pleased me very much, & I most completely agree with you on the parts which are strongest & which are weakest. The imperfection of Geolog. Record is, as you say, the weakest of all; but yet I am pleased to find that there are almost more Geological converts than of pursuers of other branches of natural science. I may mention Lyell, Ramsay, Jukes, Rogers, Keyserling, all good men & true—2 Pictet of Geneva is not a convert, but is evidently staggered (as I think is Bronn of Heidelberg) & he has written a perfectly fair review in the Bib. Universelle of Geneva.—3 Old Bronn has translated my book, well-done also, into German & his well-known name will give it circulation.—4
I think geologists are more converted than simple naturalists because more accustomed to reasoning. Before telling you about progress of opinion on subject, you must let me say how I admire the generous manner in which you speak of my Book: most persons would in your position have felt some envy or jealousy. How nobly free you seem to be of this common failing of mankind.— But you speak far too modestly of yourself;—you would, if you had had my leisure done the work just as well, perhaps better, than I have done it.—
Talking of envy, you never read anything more envious & spiteful (with numerous misrepresentations) than Owen is in the Edinburgh Review. I must give one instance he throws doubts & sneers at my saying that the ovigerous frena of cirripedes have been converted into Branchiæ, because I have not proved them to be Branchiæ; whereas he himself admits, before I wrote, on cirripedes, without the least hesitation that these organs are Branchiæ.—5
The attacks have been heavy & incessant of late. Sedgwick & Prof. Clarke attacked me savagely at Cambridge Phil. Soc. but Henslow defended me well, though not a convert.—6 Phillips has since attacked me in Lecture at Cambridge.7 Sir W. Jardine in Eding. New Phil. Journal.—8 Wollaston in Annal of Nat. History.—9 A. Murray before Royal Soc. of Edinburgh—10 Haughton at Geolog. Soc. of Dublin—11 Dawson in Canadian Nat. Magazine,12 And many others.13 But I am got case-hardened, & all these attacks will make me only more determinately fight. Agassiz sends me personal civil messages but incessantly attacks me; but Asa Gray fights like a hero in defence.—.— Lyell keeps as firm as a tower, & this autumn will publish on Geological History of Man, & will there declare his conversion, which now is universally known.—14 I hope that you have received Hooker’s splendid Essay.—15 So far is bigotry carried, that I can name 3 Botanists who will not even read Hooker’s Essay!!16
Here is a curious thing, a Mr. Pat. Matthew, a Scotchman, published in 1830 a work on Naval Timber & Arboriculture, & in appendix to this, he gives most clearly but very briefly in half-dozen paragraphs our view of natural selection. It is most complete case of anticipitation. He published extracts in G. Chronicle:17 I got Book, & have since published letter, acknowledging that I am fairly forestalled.—18 Yesterday I heard from Lyell that a German Dr Schaffhausen has sent him a pamphet published some years ago, in which same View is nearly anticipated but I have not yet seen this pamphet.— 19 My Brother, who is very sagacious man, always said you will find that some one will have been before you.—
I am at work at my larger work which I shall publish in separate volumes.— But from ill-health & swarms of letters, I get on very very slowly.— I hope that I shall not have wearied you with these details.—
With sincere thanks for your letter, & with most deeply-felt wishes for your success in science & in every way believe me,20 | Your sincere well-wisher | C. Darwin
Pleasure in ARW’s approbation of the Origin. Other supporters among scientists. ARW’s generosity.
Attacks by Owen, Sedgwick, and others.
Anticipation of natural selection by Matthew in 1830.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2807,” accessed on 23 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2807