To Asa Gray 25 April 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Gray
I have no doubt I have to thank you for copy of a Review on the “Origin” in N. American Review.2 It seems to me clever, & I do not doubt will damage my Book. I had meant to have made some remarks on it; but Lyell wished much to keep it, & my head is quite confused between the many Reviews which I have lately read. I am sure the Reviewer is wrong about Bees cells, ie about the distance; any lesser distance would do, or even greater distance, but then some of the planes would lie outside the generative spheres, but this would not add much difficulty to work—3
The Reviewer takes a strange view of Instinct: he seems to regard intelligence as developed instinct; which I believe is wholly false.—4 I suspect he has never much attended to Instinct & minds of animals, except perhaps by reading.
My chief object is to ask you if you could procure for me a copy of the New York Times for Wednesday March 28th: it contains a very striking review of my Book, which I shd. much like to keep.5 How curious that about the two most striking Reviews (ie yours & this) shd. have appeared in America! This review is not really useful, but somehow is impressive.— There was good Review in the Revue des Deux Mondes April 1st. by M. Laugel, said to be a very clever man.—6
Have you seen how I have been thrashed by Owen in last Edinburgh: he misquotes & misrepresents me badly, & how he lauds himself.— But the manner in which he sneers at Hooker is scandalous,—to speak of his Essay & never allude to his work on Geograph. Distribution is scandalous.7 When Hooker’s Essay appeared Owen wrote a note, which I have seen, full of strongest praise! What a strange man he is. All say his malignity is merely envy because my Book has made a little noise. How strange it is that he can be envious about a naturalist, like myself, immeasurably his inferior! But it has annoyed me a good deal to be treated thus by a friend of 25 years duration. He might have been just as severe without being so spiteful.— Owen consoles himself by saying that the whole subject will be forgotten in ten years.—
Have you noticed how completely I have been anticipated by a Mr. P. Matthew, in Gardeners Chronicle.8
Hooker about a fortnight ago staid here a few days & was very pleasant; but I think he overworks himself. He is beginning to experimentise on various subjects at Kew, & if he can but spare time I think he will be glad of it. He is going to try to degenerate our culinary vegetables. What a gigantic undertaking, I imagine, his & Benthams Genera Plantarum will be!9 I hope he will not get too much immersed in it, so as not to spare some time for Geograph. Distribution & other such questions.
I have begun to work steadily, but very slowly as usual, at details on Variation under domestication.
My dear Gray | Yours always truly & gratefully | C. Darwin
Origin reviews. Is annoyed at Richard Owen’s malignity [Edinburgh Rev. 111 (1860): 487–532].
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2767,” accessed on 17 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2767