To J. D. Hooker 23 [April 1861]1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker
I was very glad to get your letter this morning (to which I wrote brief answer), though it contained so melancholy an account of poor dear & honoured Henslow.1 How strange & pathetic an account you give of his mental state; & how his kind feelings shine out.2 He truly is a model to keep always before one’s eyes. How I wish his sufferings were closed in the long & tranquil sleep of death. It must be very depressing to you, & I am glad you can read & think on other subjects.—
I quite agree with what you say on Lieut. Hutton’s Review (who he is, I know not):3 it struck me as very original: he is one of the very few who see that the change of species cannot be directly proved & that the doctrine must sink or swim according as it groups & explains phenomena. It is really curious how few judge it in this way, which is clearly the right way. I have been much interested by Bentham’s paper in N.H.R;4 but it would not of course from familiarity strike you, as it did me. I liked the whole,—all the facts on the nature of close & varying species. Good Heavens to think of the British Botanists turning up their noses & saying that he knows nothing of British plants!5 I was, also, pleased at his remarks on classification, because it showed me that I wrote truly on this subject in the Origin.—6 I saw Bentham at Linn. Socy. & had some talk with him & Lubbock & Edgeworth, Wallich several others.—7 I asked Bentham to give us his ideas of species: whether partially with us or dead against us, he would write excellent matter. He made no answer, but his manner made me think he might do so, if urged; so do you attack him.8 Everyone was speaking with affection & anxiety of Henslow.—
I dined with Bell at Linn. Club,9 & liked my dinner: though it must be confessed they are rather a poor set of muffs, & I sat by the muffiest, viz Miers.—10 But dining out is such a novelty to me that I enjoyed it. Bell has a real good heart.— I liked Rolleston’s paper, but I never read anything so obscure & not self-evident as his “cannons”.11 I had a dim perception of the truth of your profound remark, that he wrote in fear & trembling “of God, man & monkeys”, but I would alter it into God, man, Owen & monkeys.—12 Huxley’s letter was truculent & I see that everyone thinks it too truculent;13 but in simple truth I am become quite demoniacal about Owen, worse than Huxley, & I told Huxley that I shd. put myself under his care to be rendered milder.14 But I mean to try to get more angelic in my feelings; yet I never shall forget his cordial shake of the hand when he was writing as spitefully as he possibly could against me.15 But I have always thought you have more cause than I to be demoniacally inclined towards him.—16 Bell told me that Owen says that the Editor mutilated his article in Edinburgh R.17 & Bell seemed to think it was rendered more spiteful by Editor; perhaps the opposite view is as probable: Oh dear this does not look like becoming more angelic in my temper.
I had splendid long talk with Lyell (you may guess how splendid, for he was many times on his knees with elbows on sofa & rump high in air) on his work in France: he seems to have done capital work in making out age of the celt-bearing beds; but the case gets more & more complicated. All, however, tends to greater & greater antiquity of man. The shingle beds seem to be estuary deposits.—18
I called on R. Chambers at his very nice house in St John’s wood & had very pleasant half-hour’s talk:19 he is really a capital fellow. He made one good remark & chuckled over it, that the Laymen universally had treated the controversy on the Essays & Review, as a merely professional subject & had not joined in it, but had left it to the Clergy.—20
I shall be anxious for your next letter about Henslow.
Farewell with sincere sympathy | My old friend | C. Darwin
P.S. We are very much obliged for London R.21 We like reading much of it, & the science is incomparably better than in Athenæum. You shall not go on very long sending it, as you will be ruined by pennies & trouble. But I am under a horrid spell to the Athenæum & Gardeners Chron, both of which are intolerably dull, but I have taken them in for so many years, that I cannot give them up. The Cottage Gardener for my purpose is now far better than G. Chronicle22
Lieut. F. W. Hutton’s original review [Geologist 4 (1861): 132–6, 183–8] understands that mutability cannot be directly proved.
CD met Bentham at Linnean Society and asked him to write up his views on mutability.
Opinion of Owen.
Conversation with Lyell on antiquity of man.
- positive attitude/assessment
- queries / requests
- reception of Darwinism
- theory (including philosophy)
- time, ‘inorganic’ (geological, historical)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3098,” accessed on 14 February 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3098