The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin – Day 104 of 188

Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker.

Down, Monday [February 10th, 1845].

My dear Hooker,

I am much obliged for your very agreeable letter; it was very good-natured, in the midst of your scientific and theatrical dissipation, to think of writing so long a letter to me. I am astonished at your news, and I must condole with you in your present view of the Professorship (Sir J.D. Hooker was a candidate for the Professorship of Botany at Edinburgh University.), and most heartily deplore it on my own account. There is something so chilling in a separation of so many hundred miles, though we did not see much of each other when nearer. You will hardly believe how deeply I regret for myself your present prospects. I had looked forward to [our] seeing much of each other during our lives. It is a heavy disappointment; and in a mere selfish point of view, as aiding me in my work, your loss is indeed irreparable. But, on the other hand, I cannot doubt that you take at present a desponding, instead of bright, view of your prospects: surely there are great advantages, as well as disadvantages. The place is one of eminence; and really it appears to me there are so many indifferent workers, and so few readers, that it is a high advantage, in a purely scientific point of view, for a good worker to hold a position which leads others to attend to his work. I forget whether you attended Edinburgh, as a student, but in my time there was a knot of men who were far from being the indifferent and dull listeners which you expect for your audience. Reflect what a satisfaction and honour it would be to make a good botanist –with your disposition you will be to many what Henslow was at Cambridge to me and others, a most kind friend and guide. Then what a fine garden, and how good a Public Library! why, Forbes always regrets the advantages of Edinburgh for work: think of the inestimable advantage of getting within a short walk of those noble rocks and hills and sandy shores near Edinburgh! Indeed, I cannot pity you much, though I pity myself exceedingly in your loss. Surely lecturing will, in a year or two, with your great capacity for work (whatever you may be pleased to say to the contrary) become easy, and you will have a fair time for your Antarctic Flora and general views of distribution. If I thought your Professorship would stop your work, I should wish it and all the good worldly consequences at el Diavolo. I know I shall live to see you the first authority in Europe on that grand subject, that almost keystone of the laws of creation, Geographical Distribution. Well, there is one comfort, you will be at Kew, no doubt, every year, so I shall finish by forcing down your throat my sincere congratulations. Thanks for all your news. I grieve to hear Humboldt is failing; one cannot help feeling, though unrightly, that such an end is humiliating: even when I saw him he talked beyond all reason. If you see him again, pray give him my most respectful and kind compliments, and say that I never forget that my whole course of life is due to having read and re-read as a youth his ‘Personal Narrative.’ How true and pleasing are all your remarks on his kindness; think how many opportunities you will have, in your new place, of being a Humboldt to others. Ask him about the river in N.E. Europe, with the Flora very different on its opposite banks. I have got and read your Wilkes; what a feeble book in matter and style, and how splendidly got up! Do write me a line from Berlin. Also thanks for the proof-sheets. I do not, however, mean proof plates; I value them, as saving me copying extracts. Farewell, my dear Hooker, with a heavy heart I wish you joy of your prospects.

Your sincere friend,
C. Darwin.

[The second edition of the ‘Journal,’ to which the following letter refers, was completed between April 25th and August 25th. It was published by Mr. Murray in the ‘Colonial and Home Library,’ and in this more accessible form soon had a large sale.

Up to the time of his first negotiations with Mr. Murray for its publication in this form, he had received payment only in the form of a large number of presentation copies, and he seems to have been glad to sell the copyright of the second edition to Mr. Murray for 150 pounds.

The points of difference between it and the first edition are of interest chiefly in connection with the growth of the author’s views on evolution, and will be considered later.]

Charles Darwin to C. Lyell.

Down [July, 1845].

My dear Lyell,

I send you the first part (No doubt proof-sheets.) of the new edition [of the ‘Journal of Researches’], which I so entirely owe to you. You will see that I have ventured to dedicate it to you (The dedication of the second edition of the ‘Journal of Researches,’ is as follows:–“To Charles Lyell, Esq., F.R.S., this second edition is dedicated with grateful pleasure–as an acknowledgment that the chief part of whatever scientific merit this Journal and the other works of the Author may possess, has been derived from studying the well-known and admirable ‘Principles of Geology.'”), and I trust that this cannot be disagreeable. I have long wished, not so much for your sake, as for my own feelings of honesty, to acknowledge more plainly than by mere reference, how much I geologically owe you. Those authors, however, who like you, educate people’s minds as well as teach them special facts, can never, I should think, have full justice done them except by posterity, for the mind thus insensibly improved can hardly perceive its own upward ascent. I had intended putting in the present acknowledgment in the third part of my Geology, but its sale is so exceedingly small that I should not have had the satisfaction of thinking that as far as lay in my power I had owned, though imperfectly, my debt. Pray do not think that I am so silly, as to suppose that my dedication can any ways gratify you, except so far as I trust you will receive it, as a most sincere mark of my gratitude and friendship. I think I have improved this edition, especially the second part, which I have just finished. I have added a good deal about the Fuegians, and cut down into half the mercilessly long discussion on climate and glaciers, etc. I do not recollect anything added to the first part, long enough to call your attention to; there is a page of description of a very curious breed of oxen in Banda Oriental. I should like you to read the few last pages; there is a little discussion on extinction, which will not perhaps strike you as new, though it has so struck me, and has placed in my mind all the difficulties with respect to the causes of extinction, in the same class with other difficulties which are generally quite overlooked and undervalued by naturalists; I ought, however, to have made my discussion longer and shewn by facts, as I easily could, how steadily every species must be checked in its numbers.

I received your Travels (‘Travels in North America,’ 2 volumes, 1845.) yesterday; and I like exceedingly its external and internal appearance; I read only about a dozen pages last night (for I was tired with hay-making), but I saw quite enough to perceive how very much it will interest me, and how many passages will be scored. I am pleased to find a good sprinkling of Natural History; I shall be astonished if it does not sell very largely…

How sorry I am to think that we shall not see you here again for so long; I wish you may knock yourself a little bit up before you start and require a day’s fresh air, before the ocean breezes blow on you…

Ever yours,
C. Darwin.

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