To John Fiske 9 November 1871
Down, | Beckenham, Kent. [Leith Hill Place, Surrey]
Nov 9. 1871
My dear Sir
I am greatly obliged to you for having sent me through my son, your lectures;1 & for the very honorable manner in which you allude to my works. The lectures seem to me to be written with much force, clearness & originality. You shew also a truly extraordinary amount of knowledge of all that has been published on the subject. The type in many parts is so small, that except to young eyes, it is very difficult to read. Therefore I wish that you wd reflect on their separate publication;2 though so much has been published on the subject that the public may possibly have had enough. I hope that this may be your intention; for I do not think I have ever seen the general argument more forcibly put so as to convert unbelievers: It has surprized & pleased me to see that you & others have detected the falseness of much of Mr Mivart’s reasoning.3 I wish I had read yr lectures a month or two ago, as I have been preparing a new edit. of the “Origin” in which I answer some special points, & I believe I shd have found yr lectures useful; but my M.S is now in the printers hands & I have not strength or time to make any more additions.4
With my thanks & good wishes | I remain my dear Sir | yours sincerely | Charles Darwin
P.S. By an odd coincidence since the above was written I have recd yr very obliging letter of Oct. 23. I did notice the point to which you refer & will hereafter reflect more over it.5 I was indeed on the point of putting in a sentence to somewhat of the same effect in the new ed. of the Origin, in relation to the query why have not apes advanced in intellect as much as man; but I omitted it on account of the asserted prolonged infancy of the Orang.6 I am, also, a little doubtful about the distinction between gregariousness & sociability.—Mem, case of Baboons.7 When I have time & strength, I will reread your discussions—
When you come to England I shall have much pleasure in making your acquaintance; but my health is habitually so weak that I have very small power of conversing with my friends as much as I wish—
Let me again thank you for yr letter. To believe that I have at all influenced the minds of able men is the greatest satisfaction which I am capable of receiving.
Thanks JF for his lectures, the arguments of which he finds very forcible; is glad to see JF has detected the falseness of much of Mivart’s reasoning.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8058,” accessed on 23 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8058