To Asa Gray 22 July 1
Down Bromley Kent [Hartfield]
My dear Gray
Owing to absence from home at Water-cure & then having to move my sick girl to whence I am now writing,2 I have only lately read the discussion in Proc.s American Acad.3 And I now I cannot resist expressing my sincere admiration of your most clear powers of reasoning. As Hooker lately said in a note to me, you are more than anyone else the thorough master of the subject.4 I declare that you know my Book as well as I do myself; & bring to the question new lines of illustration & argument, in a manner which excites my astonishment & almost my envy! I admire these discussions, I think, almost more than your article in Silliman’s Journal.5 Every single word seems weighed carefully, & tells like a 32-pound shot. It makes me much wish (but I know that you have not time) that you could write more in detail; & give, for instance, the facts on the variability of the American wild fruits.—
The Athenæum has largest circulation & I have sent my copy to Editor with request that he would republish the first discussion: I much fear he will not, as he reviewed subject in so hostile a spirit & is not a liberal man.—6 I fear that I shall lose my copy.— I have received p. 410 to 416—and pp. 425 to 434—, so that pages 417 to 424 are missing7 I wish you would tell me whether I could buy these sheets of Proceedings.—
New York Times had not arrived when I left home.— Hooker has lent me (& was much puzzled about authorship!) the July Monthly Atlantic:8 it is uncommonly pleasantly written, & will tell well on public.— I shall be curious (& will order) the August number, as soon as I know that it contains your Review of Reviews.—9 My conclusion is that you have made a mistake in being a Botanist, you ought to have been a Lawyer, & you would have rolled in wealth by perverting the truth, instead of studying the living truths of this world.—
Of Reviews I have to report one in Quarterly by the Bishop of Oxford (Wilberforce) aided by Owen:10 it is uncommonly clever, not worth anything scientifically, but quizzes me in splendid style till I chuckled with laughter at myself— From all that I gather, the B. Assoc. at Oxford advanced subject greatly, owing to effort of Hooker, Huxley & Lubbock, not withstanding incessant attacks. Henslow & Daubeny are shaken.—11 I hear from Hooker that he hears from Hochstetter that my views are making very considerable progress in Germany;12 & that good workers are discussing the question. Bronn at end of his Translation has a chapter of Criticism; but it is such difficult German, that I have not yet read it.—13 Hopkins’ Review in Fraser is thought the best which has appeared against us;14 I believe that Hopkins is so much opposed because his course of study has never led him to reflect much on such subjects as Geograph. Distribution, Classification, Homologies &c &c; so that he does not feel it a relief to have some kind of explanation.—
I see most clearly that my Book would have been a dead failure, had it not been for all the generous labour bestowed on it (not for my sake, but for subject sake) by yourself, Hooker, Huxley & Carpenter; & to these names I hope soon Lyell’s may be added.— But I know that the Quarterly will cause Lyell to shake in his shoes.15 Considering his age, his former views & position in Society, I think his conduct has been heroic on this subject.—
I am tired, so will write no more. Farewell my kind & good friend. | Yours most truly | C. Darwin
Greatly praises AG’s discussion of Origin in Proc. Am. Acad. Arts & Sci. [4 (1860): 411–15; 424–6].
Mentions other reviews of Origin; believes the BAAS meeting at Oxford greatly advanced the subject. Has heard his views are gaining ground in Germany.