To Charles Lyell 28 [September 1860]
15. Marine Parade | Eastbourne
28 Friday Evening
My dear Lyell
I will now amuse myself by rereading your last letter, & see if I have anything to answer.1
The extinction of Ammonites, even after what you tell me about the great breaks in upper challk does yet seem to me a most singular fact; considering how long & how very largely they were developed during the Secondary periods, & considering how high they are in Molluscous scale.—
I do not think I shd. save you any trouble (I have ordered my own copy) by ordering the Atlantic Monthly for October; any Bookseller could order it or get it (for he has copies sent to him) at Trubners: I got lately from him the copy which you have of the August or 2d. Article.—2
I am very glad to hear about the Germans reading my Book.3 No one will be converted, who has not independently begun to doubt about Species.— Is not Krohn a good fellow?4 I have long meant to write to him. He has been working at Cirripedes & has detected 2 or 3 gigantic blunders, but in very difficult points. & about which, I thank Heaven, I spoke rather doubtfully, such difficult dissection that even Huxley failed.5 It is chiefly the interpretation which I put on parts that is so wrong; & not the parts which I describe. But they were gigantic blunders; & why I say all this is, because Krohn, instead of crowing at all pointed out my errors with the utmost gentleness & pleasantness.— I have always meant & write to him & thank him.6 I suppose “Dr Krohn, Bonn” would reach him.—7
With respect to Guinea-pig, I have asked A. Gray where Von Baer makes this statement; unless Von B. has some wonderful new evidence what is the wild parent; the fact goes for little; for I agree with those who entirely deny that the Aperea of La Plata & S. Brazil is the wild parent-stock.8 It seems that the Guinea-pig was domesticated when America was discovered.—
Did I ever tell you that the great Von Baer goes a long way with us on Species;9 he has read my Book with much attention.—
I would gladly keep myself the Hybrid Hare-Rabbit; but if I got them from France, what evidence should I have that those which I bought were half & half.?— Bartlett is setting about it in right way, namely by crossing wild Hare & Rabbit.—10 If you see him again just suggest that he shd. try several races of the Rabbit with Hare, if one fail; for there is some mystery about the whole case, as several have tried & could never get the two species to pair.—
I cannot see yet how multiple origin of dog can be properly brought as argument for multiple origin of man. Is not your feeling a remnant of that deeply-impressed one on all our minds, that a species is an entity,—something quite distinct from variety? Is it not that the dog case injures the argument from fertility; so that one main argument that the races of man are varieties & not 〈species, i.e. because they〉11 are fertile inter 〈se is〉 much weakened?—
I quite agree with what Hooker says that whatever variation is possible under culture is possible under nature;— not that the same form would ever be accumulated & arrived at by selection for man’s pleasure, & by natural selection for the organism’s own good.—
Talking of “Natural Selection”, if I had to commence de novo, I would have used 〈natural preservation〉;12 for I find men like Harvey of Dublin cannot understand me; though he has read the Book twice.13 Dr Gray of B. Museum, remarked to me that “Selection was obviously impossible with plants”! “No one could tell him how it could be possible”.—14 And he may now add that the Author did not attempt it to him!—
Yours ever affect | C. Darwin
Discusses extinction of ammonites.
Discusses August Krohn’s cirripede research and Krohn’s correction of his own work.
Discusses origin of dog in connection with origin of man.
Comments on the guinea-pig in South America.
Notes K. E. von Baer’s view of species.
Mentions difficulty of crossing rabbit and hare.
Agrees with Hooker’s views on variation under cultivation and in nature.
Regrets use of term "natural selection", would now use "Natural Preservation".
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2931,” accessed on 26 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2931