The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin – Day 115 of 188

Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker.

Malvern, April 9th, 1849.

My dear Hooker,

The very next morning after posting my last letter (I think on 23rd of March), I received your two interesting gossipaceous and geological letters; and the latter I have since exchanged with Lyell for his. I will write higglety-pigglety just as subjects occur. I saw the Review in the ‘Athenaeum,’ it was written in an ill-natured spirit; but the whole virus consisted in saying that there was not novelty enough in your remarks for publication. No one, nowadays, cares for reviews. I may just mention that my Journal got some real good abuse, “presumption,” etc.,–ended with saying that the volume appeared “made up of the scraps and rubbish of the author’s portfolio.” I most truly enter into what you say, and quite believe you that you care only for the review with respect to your father; and that this alone would make you like to see extracts from your letters more properly noticed in this same periodical. I have considered to the very best of my judgment whether any portion of your present letters are adapted for the ‘Athenaeum’ (in which I have no interest; the beasts not having even noticed my three geological volumes which I had sent to them), and I have come to the conclusion it is better not to send them. I feel sure, considering all the circumstances, that without you took pains and wrote with care, a condensed and finished sketch of some striking feature in your travels, it is better not to send anything. These two letters are, moreover, rather too geological for the ‘Athenaeum,’ and almost require woodcuts. On the other hand, there are hardly enough details for a communication to the Geological Society. I have not the smallest doubt that your facts are of the highest interest with regard to glacial action in the Himalaya; but it struck both Lyell and myself that your evidence ought to have been given more distinctly…

I have written so lately that I have nothing to say about myself; my health prevented me going on with a crusade against “mihi” and “nobis,” of which you warn me of the dangers. I showed my paper to three or four Naturalists, and they all agreed with me to a certain extent: with health and vigour, I would not have shown a white feather, [and] with aid of half-a-dozen really good Naturalists, I believe something might have been done against the miserable and degrading passion of mere species naming. In your letter you wonder what “Ornamental Poultry” has to do with Barnacles; but do not flatter yourself that I shall not yet live to finish the Barnacles, and then make a fool of myself on the subject of species, under which head ornamental Poultry are very interesting…

Charles Darwin to C. Lyell.

The Lodge, Malvern [June, 1849].

…I have got your book (‘A Second Visit to the United States.’), and have read all the first and a small part of the second volume (reading is the hardest work allowed here), and greatly I have been interested by it. It makes me long to be a Yankee. E. desires me to say that she quite “gloated” over the truth of your remarks on religious progress…I delight to think how you will disgust some of the bigots and educational dons. As yet there has not been much Geology or Natural History, for which I hope you feel a little ashamed. Your remarks on all social subjects strike me as worthy of the author of the ‘Principles.’ And yet (I know it is prejudice and pride) if I had written the Principles, I never would have written any travels; but I believe I am more jealous about the honour and glory of the Principles than you are yourself…

Charles Darwin to C. Lyell.

September 14th, 1849.

…I go on with my aqueous processes, and very steadily but slowly gain health and strength. Against all rules, I dined at Chevening with Lord Mahon, who did me the great honour of calling on me, and how he heard of me I can’t guess. I was charmed with Lady Mahon, and any one might have been proud at the pieces of agreeableness which came from her beautiful lips with respect to you. I like old Lord Stanhope very much; though he abused Geology and Zoology heartily. “To suppose that the Omnipotent God made a world, found it a failure, and broke it up, and then made it again, and again broke it up, as the Geologists say, is all fiddle faddle. Describing Species of birds and shells, etc., is all fiddle faddle…”

I am heartily glad we shall meet at Birmingham, as I trust we shall, if my health will but keep up. I work now every day at the Cirripedia for 2 1/2 hours, and so get on a little, but very slowly. I sometimes, after being a whole week employed and having described perhaps only two species, agree mentally with Lord Stanhope, that it is all fiddle faddle; however, the other day I got a curious case of a unisexual, instead of hermaphrodite cirripede, in which the female had the common cirripedial character, and in two valves of her shell had two little pockets, in each of which she kept a little husband; I do not know of any other case where a female invariably has two husbands. I have one still odder fact, common to several species, namely, that though they are hermaphrodite, they have small additional, or as I shall call them, complemental males, one specimen itself hermaphrodite had no less than seven, of these complemental males attached to it. Truly the schemes and wonders of Nature are illimitable. But I am running on as badly about my cirripedia as about Geology; it makes me groan to think that probably I shall never again have the exquisite pleasure of making out some new district, of evolving geological light out of some troubled dark region. So I must make the best of my Cirripedia…

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)