To Asa Gray 18 May 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Gray
I thank you for your pleasant letter received this morning.2 I return Messrs. Appleton’s letter: you refer to two letters from them. I have habit of filing everything, & have looked through my whole file & can find no other.3 It is provoking that he does not publish 2d. Edit. & how kind it is in you to go on troubling yourself on the subject.—4 It seems very true that as you have put your hand in it, it is not so easy to draw it out. What a battle you do seem to have been fighting on the origin of species.— I can most plainly see that whatever amount of truth my book may contain, the saving of it (as I told Hooker the other day) will surely be wholly due to a very small body of men. Had it not been for Lyell, Hooker, yourself & two or three others, I am well convinced my book & the whole subject would have been mere flash in the pan. For the attacks are now here incessant & very bitter. For instance Sedgwick & Prof. Clarke attacked me savagely at Cambridge Phil. Soc. but dear old Henslow (though he goes but little way with me) stood up manfully for the subject as legitimately within bounds of science, & produced excellent effect.— Since then Prof. Phillips the Geologist has lectured against me at Cambridge—5 A. Murray the Entomologist has read paper at Royal Soc. of Edinburgh against me.6 Dr Dawson in Canada Nat. Mag. do.7 Some one in Dublin Nat. Mag.8 Mr Haughton at Dublin Geolog. Soc.9 And thus I could go on for many more!!
But the effect on me is that I will buckle on my armour & fight my best. You seem to have done so allready in grand style. And I believe Hooker will, as certainly will Lyell & Huxley. But it will be a long fight. By myself I shd. be powerless. I feel my weak health acutely, as I cannot work hard.— So bitter is the feeling of some that Hooker tells me that neither Harvey, Balfour, or Arnott have ever read his Australian Essay!10 Is this not incredibly paltry? It makes me savage to think of the slighting way in which Owen alludes to Hooker’s Essay in Edinburgh Review.11 Lyell is working very hard at geological history of Man; & it is really marvellous how rapidly curious facts are turning up. I expect his Essay, in which he will discuss origin of species, will make a great commotion with the reading public.
Thanks about red “roots”.—12 I most sincerely hope that you may publish your stunner of an answer to Bowen Agassiz & Co.—13
With hearty thanks | Yours most sincerely | C. Darwin
Bitter and incessant attacks on the Origin.
Any truth in it has been saved only by a small body of men like Lyell, AG, Hooker, and Huxley.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2808,” accessed on 28 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2808