To Asa Gray 10 September 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Gray
On receipt (through Hooker) of your letter of Aug. 26th. ,2 I ordered my Bookseller to send you Hopkins’ 2d. article in Fraser; it was very stupid in me not to have thought of sending it & the Quarterly.3 But I presume the Quarterly will have long ago arrived in the States. I have ordered Murray to send the “Origin” to the American Acad. of Sciences, to your care, as I did not know proper address; I shall be grateful for volumes. Many thanks for the sheets replacing those sent to Athenæum.4 I sent the copy of this Athenæum at Lyell’s request to him in Germany (where he is fossil-man hunting) & he writes to me that he thinks the argument by you quite admirable.—5 I have not yet recived the papers mentioned in your letter sent to Hooker, for H. first lent them to Lady H.—6 You will have heard of Hooker’s astonishing expedition to Syria; if he ascends Lebanon, it may answer scientifically, but I cannot help thinking the expedition rather rash.7 His absence is so great a loss to me, that I am hardly fair judge of the wisdom of the Journey. I have got, nevertheless, your second article in Atlantic monthly;8 for a copy of whole number was sent to my Brother-in-law Hensleigh Wedgwood, on account of a Review of his Dictionary.9 Do you know who the writer is, as my Brother would like to know??
I have ordered another copy of this August number, as I shd. like (if I can get it in London) to send copy to Pictet;10 & I have been thinking & shall consult Huxley, whether I could not get it reprinted in some English Journal.—11 I have, also, ordered by anticipation two copies of October number; so do not trouble yourself to send it.12
By the way I am thinking of taking a very great liberty; but after much consideration I do not think you can object: you said that it was known that you were the author of the 1st. article;13 & as the best chance of getting it reprinted in England in a scientific Journal wd be to affix your name, I think of doing this & I hope to Heaven that you will not think this an unwarrantable liberty. I think most highly of this Article & I cannot bear to think it shd. not be known in England. You will be weary of my praise; but it does strike me as quite admirably argued; & so well & pleasantly written.— Your many metaphors are inimitably good. I said in a former letter that you were a Lawyer; but I made a gross mistake, I am sure that you are a poet. No by Jove I will tell you what you are, a hybrid, a complex cross of Lawyer, Poet, Naturalist, & Theologian!— Was there ever such a monster seen before? I have just looked through the passages which I have marked as appearing to me extra good, but I see that they are too numerous to specify; & this is no exaggeration. My eye just alights on the happy comparison of colours of prism & our artificial groups.—14 I see one little error of fossil cattle in S. America.—15 It is curious how each one, I suppose weighs arguments in a different balance: embryology is to me by far strongest single class of facts in favour of change of form, & not one, I think, of my reviewers has alluded to this. Variations not coming on at a very early age, & being inherited at not very early corresponding period, explains, as it seems to me, the grandest of all facts in Nat. History, or rather in Zoology. viz the resemblance of Embryos.—16
Hensleigh Wedgwood, above alluded to, is a very strong Theist, & I put it to him, whether he thought that each time a fly was snapped up by a swallow, its death was designed; & he admitted he did not believe so, only that God ordered general laws & left the result to what may be so far called chance, that there was no design in the death of each individual Fly.—
Farewell my good Friend | Yours most truly | Charles Darwin
Never write to me when too much pressed by labour,—though I value much your letters.—
Has received second part of AG’s Atlantic Monthly article ["Darwin on the origin of species", 6 (1860): 109–16, 229–39], and would like to have it reprinted in England with the first part.
Regrets no reviewer has touched upon embryology, which he feels provides one of his strongest arguments.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2910,” accessed on 26 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2910