To George Bentham 19 June 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Bentham
I have been extremely much pleased & interested by your address, which you kindly sent me.2 It seems to me excellently done, with as much judicial calmness & impartiality as the Lord Chancellor could have shown. But whether the “immutable” gentlemen would agree with the impartiality may be doubted,—there is too much kindness shown towards me, Hooker & others, they might say.3 Moreover I verily believe that your address, written as it is, will do more to shake the unshaken & bring on those leaning to our side, than anything written directly in favour of transmutation.4 I can hardly tell why it is, but your address has pleased me as much as Lyell’s book disappointed me,—that is the part on species, though so cleverly written.5 I agree with all your remarks on the Reviewers. By the way, Lecoq is a believer in the change of species.—6 I, for one, can conscientiously declare that I never feel surprised at anyone sticking to the belief of immutability; though I am often not a little surprised at the arguments advanced on this side.—7 I remember too well my endless oscillations of doubt & difficulty. It is to me really laughable, when I think of the years which elapsed before I saw what I believe to be the explanation of some parts of the case: I believe it was 15 years after I begun before I saw the meaning & cause of the divergence of the descendants of any one pair.—8
You pay me some most elegant & pleasing compliments. I had not heard before that Mill had written anything on my treatment of the subject;9 & this, as you may believe, is highly satisfactory to me; after the Bishop of Oxford having said he believed that the Origin “was the most illogical book ever published.”—10
There is much in your address which has pleased me much, especially your remarks on various naturalists. I am so glad that you have alluded so honourably to Pasteur.11 I have just read over this note; it does not express strongly enough the interest, which I have felt in reading your address.— You have done, I believe, a real good turn to the right side.
Believe me | Dear Bentham | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin.
I have been rather bad for some days & was in bed nearly all yesterday; so my note is duller than it otherwise, perhaps, would have been.— Shall you think it a very odd request, if I ask you to show this note to Hooker, as he wanted to hear what I thought, & it will save me writing it again?—12 I have written to you, exactly as I should have done to him—
GB’s address [Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. (1863): xi–xxix] pleased him as much as Lyell’s book [Antiquity of man] disappointed him on species question. GB has done a "real good turn to the right side".
- Letter no.
- Darwin, C. R.
- Bentham, George
- Sent from
- Source of text
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Bentham correspondence 3: 709–10)
- Physical description
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4217,” accessed on 24 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4217