To Asa Gray 22 July 1
Down Bromley Kent [Hartfield]
My dear Gray
Owing to absence from home at Water-cure & then having to move my sick girl to whence I am now writing,2 I have only lately read the discussion in Proc.s American Acad.3 And I now I cannot resist expressing my sincere admiration of your most clear powers of reasoning. As Hooker lately said in a note to me, you are more than anyone else the thorough master of the subject.4 I declare that you know my Book as well as I do myself; & bring to the question new lines of illustration & argument, in a manner which excites my astonishment & almost my envy! I admire these discussions, I think, almost more than your article in Silliman’s Journal.5 Every single word seems weighed carefully, & tells like a 32-pound shot. It makes me much wish (but I know that you have not time) that you could write more in detail; & give, for instance, the facts on the variability of the American wild fruits.—
The Athenæum has largest circulation & I have sent my copy to Editor with request that he would republish the first discussion: I much fear he will not, as he reviewed subject in so hostile a spirit & is not a liberal man.—6 I fear that I shall lose my copy.— I have received p. 410 to 416—and pp. 425 to 434—, so that pages 417 to 424 are missing7 I wish you would tell me whether I could buy these sheets of Proceedings.—
New York Times had not arrived when I left home.— Hooker has lent me (& was much puzzled about authorship!) the July Monthly Atlantic:8 it is uncommonly pleasantly written, & will tell well on public.— I shall be curious (& will order) the August number, as soon as I know that it contains your Review of Reviews.—9 My conclusion is that you have made a mistake in being a Botanist, you ought to have been a Lawyer, & you would have rolled in wealth by perverting the truth, instead of studying the living truths of this world.—
Of Reviews I have to report one in Quarterly by the Bishop of Oxford (Wilberforce) aided by Owen:10 it is uncommonly clever, not worth anything scientifically, but quizzes me in splendid style till I chuckled with laughter at myself— From all that I gather, the B. Assoc. at Oxford advanced subject greatly, owing to effort of Hooker, Huxley & Lubbock, not withstanding incessant attacks. Henslow & Daubeny are shaken.—11 I hear from Hooker that he hears from Hochstetter that my views are making very considerable progress in Germany;12 & that good workers are discussing the question. Bronn at end of his Translation has a chapter of Criticism; but it is such difficult German, that I have not yet read it.—13 Hopkins’ Review in Fraser is thought the best which has appeared against us;14 I believe that Hopkins is so much opposed because his course of study has never led him to reflect much on such subjects as Geograph. Distribution, Classification, Homologies &c &c; so that he does not feel it a relief to have some kind of explanation.—
I see most clearly that my Book would have been a dead failure, had it not been for all the generous labour bestowed on it (not for my sake, but for subject sake) by yourself, Hooker, Huxley & Carpenter; & to these names I hope soon Lyell’s may be added.— But I know that the Quarterly will cause Lyell to shake in his shoes.15 Considering his age, his former views & position in Society, I think his conduct has been heroic on this subject.—
I am tired, so will write no more. Farewell my kind & good friend. | Yours most truly | C. Darwin
Greatly praises AG’s discussion of Origin in Proc. Am. Acad. Arts & Sci. [4 (1860): 411–15; 424–6].
Mentions other reviews of Origin; believes the BAAS meeting at Oxford greatly advanced the subject. Has heard his views are gaining ground in Germany.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2876,” accessed on 11 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2876