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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   28 July [1868]

Dumbola Lodge | Freshwater | I. of Wight

July 28th

My dear Hooker

We are very sincerely sorry to hear about your little girl.1 It is miserable for you, but I hope the poor little thing does not suffer much beyond exhaustion, & I have always thought that very young children do not suffer like older ones. I had not heard of the prevalence of infantile diarrhœa, but it is not surprising under such extraordinary weather.2

Your work for B. Assoc. must now be extra repulsive to you. I am glad to hear that you are going to touch on the statement that the belief in Nat. selection is passing away; I do not suppose that even the Athenæum wd. pretend that the belief in the common descent of species is passing away, & this is the more important point.3 This now almost universal belief in the evolution (somehow) of species I think may be fairly attributed in large part to the “Origin.” It wd be well for you to look at short Introduction of Owen’s Anat. of Invertebrata, & see how fully he admits the descent of species.4

Of Origin, 4 English editions, 1 or 2 American; 2 French, 2 German, 1 Dutch,—1 Italian & several (as I was told) Russian, editions.5 The translations of my Book on Var. under Domestication are the result of the Origin; & of these 2. English 1. American, 1 German, 1 French, 1 Italian & 1. Russian, have appeared or will soon appear.—6

Ernst Häckel wrote to me a week or two ago that new discussions & Reviews of the Origin are continually still coming out in Germany, where the interest on subject certainly does not diminish.7 I have seen some of these discussions & they are good ones.— I apprehend that the interest on subject has not died out in N. America, from observing in Prof. & Mrs. Agassizs Book on Brazil how excessively anxious he is to destroy me.—8 In regard to this country, everyone can judge for himself; but you would not say interest was dying out, if you were to look at last nor of the Anthropological Review, in which I am incessantly sneered at.9 I think Lyell’s Principles will produce considerable effect.10

I hope I have given you the sort of information which you want. My head is rather unsteady which makes my hand-writing worse. than usual.— Please keep the Books for me.—11 We shall be very anxious to hear about your poor Baby.

My dear old Friend | Yours affect. | C. Darwin

If you agree about the non-acceptance of nat. selection, it seems to me a very striking fact that the Newtonian theory of gravitation, which seems to evyone now so certain & plain, was rejected by a man so extraordinary able as Leibnitz.12 The truth will not penetrate a preoccupied mind.

Wallace in Westminster Review in article on Protection has good passage, contrasting the success of Natural Selection, & its gro[w]th with the comprehension of new classes of facts, with false theories, such as the Quinarian Theory & that of Polarity by poor Forbes, both of which were promulgated with high advantages, & the first temporarily accepted.—13


CD refers to Richard Owen’s Anatomy of vertebrates (Richard Owen 1866–8), 1: xxxv–xxxvii; see also Correspondence vol. 14, letter to J. D. Hooker, 31 May [1866] and n. 11, for the controversy over Owen’s apparent implicit acquiescence in CD’s views.
The four English editions of Origin had been published in 1859, 1860, 1861, and 1866. The fourth printing of the first US edition, published in 1860, incorporated a number of revisions and had ‘New edition’ on the title page (see Freeman 1977, p. 83). The French editions were Royer trans. 1862 and 1866. The German editions were Bronn trans. 1860, Bronn trans. 1863, and Bronn and Carus trans. 1867. The Dutch edition was Winkler 1860. The Italian edition was Canestrini and Salimbeni trans. 1864. On the Russian editions of Origin (Rachinskii trans. 1864 and 1865), see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 2 April 1867 and n. 7, and letter to Charles Lyell, 22 August [1867] and n. 8.
Variation went through two printings in January and February 1868, the second of which included revisions, but the official second edition did not appear until 1875 (Freeman 1977, p. 122). The US edition was published in April 1868 (see letter from George Thurber, 18–20 April 1868). The German edition was Carus trans. 1868; the French, Moulinié trans. 1868; the Italian, Canestrini trans. 1876; and the Russian, Kovalevsky trans. 1868–9.
Haeckel’s last letter was that of 17 July 1868; however, he did not discuss Origin.
CD refers to Louis Agassiz, Elizabeth Agassiz, and Agassiz and Agassiz 1868. Louis Agassiz had announced that the chief aim of his expedition to Brazil was to collect materials to show that transmutation theory was ‘wholly without foundation in facts’ (Agassiz and Agassiz 1868, p. 33).
The July issue of the Anthropological Review contained a favourable review of the first two volumes of Richard Owen’s Anatomy of vertebrates (Richard Owen 1866–8); the reviewer referred to CD’s and his supporters’ views as ‘the prevailing hallucinations respecting species’, and compared them to the cattle-plague (Anthropological Review 6 (1868): 305). The issue also contained a short paper by Hermann Schaaffhausen on Darwinism and anthropology criticising the view that CD’s theory implied the unity of the human species (ibid., pp. cviii–cxi); it was followed by a report of the following discussion, which was in parts hostile to Darwinism (ibid., pp. cxi–cxvii). CD’s lightly annotated copy of the issue is in the collection of unbound journals in the Darwin Archive–CUL (the review of Richard Owen 1866–8 is not annotated).
Charles Lyell’s Principles of geology, tenth edition (Lyell 1867–8) had been extensively revised, and included two largely new chapters on the theory of natural selection (see Lyell 1867–8, 2: vi–vii); CD had commented on the proof-sheets (see Correspondence vol. 14).
On Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s disagreement over gravity, see A. R. Hall 1980, pp. 155 et seq., and Meli 1993, pp. 38–55.
CD refers to A. R. Wallace 1867b, p. 2. On the quinarian system, see Correspondence vol. 4, letter from HEStrickland, 15 February 1849 and n. 5. On Edward Forbes’s theory of polarity, see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to J. D. Hooker, 7 July [1854] and n. 9.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Hall, Alfred Rupert. 1980. Philosophers at war: the quarrel between Newton and Leibniz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lyell, Charles. 1867–8. Principles of geology or the modern changes of the earth and its inhabitants considered as illustrative of geology. 10th edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Meli, Domenico Bertoloni. 1993. Equivalence and priority: Newton versus Leibniz. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Owen, Richard. 1866–8. On the anatomy of vertebrates. 3 vols. London: Longmans, Green & Co.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.

Winkler, Tiberius Cornelis, trans. 1860. Het ontstaan der soorten door middel van de natuurkeus, of het bewaard blijven van bevoorregte rassen in den strijd des levens. By Charles Darwin. (Dutch translation of Origin.) Haarlem, Netherlands: A. C. Kruseman.


Sorry to hear of baby’s illness.

Comments on statement that belief in natural selection is passing away. Common descent of species is almost universally accepted now, and this is more important. In large part acceptance is due to Origin. Discusses reception of and interest in Origin in various countries.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 80–2
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6292,” accessed on 30 November 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16