The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin – Day 165 of 188

Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker.

[Down] October 6th, 1858.

…If you have or can make leisure, I should very much like to hear news of Mrs. Hooker, yourself, and the children. Where did you go, and what did you do and are doing? There is a comprehensive text.

You cannot tell how I enjoyed your little visit here, it did me much good. If Harvey is still with you, pray remember me very kindly to him.

…I am working most steadily at my Abstract, but it grows to an inordinate length; yet fully to make my view clear (and never giving briefly more than a fact or two, and slurring over difficulties), I cannot make it shorter. It will yet take me three or four months; so slow do I work, though never idle. You cannot imagine what a service you have done me in making me make this Abstract; for though I thought I had got all clear, it has clarified my brains very much, by making me weigh the relative importance of the several elements.

I have been reading with much interest your (as I believe it to be) capital memoir of R. Brown in the “Gardeners’ Chronicle”…

Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker.

Down, October 12th, [1858].

…I have sent eight copies (Of the joint paper by C. Darwin and A.R. Wallace.) by post to Wallace, and will keep the others for him, for I could not think of any one to send any to.

I pray you not to pronounce too strongly against Natural Selection, till you have read my abstract, for though I dare say you will strike out many difficulties, which have never occurred to me; yet you cannot have thought so fully on the subject as I have.

I expect my Abstract will run into a small volume, which will have to be published separately…

What a splendid lot of work you have in hand.

Ever yours,
C. Darwin.

Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker.

Down, October 13th [1858].

…I have been a little vexed at myself at having asked you not “to pronounce too strongly against Natural Selection.” I am sorry to have bothered you, though I have been much interested by your note in answer. I wrote the sentence without reflection. But the truth is, that I have so accustomed myself, partly from being quizzed by my non-naturalist relations, to expect opposition and even contempt, that I forgot for the moment that you are the one living soul from whom I have constantly received sympathy. Believe [me] that I never forget for even a minute how much assistance I have received from you. You are quite correct that I never even suspected that my speculations were a “jam-pot” to you; indeed, I thought, until quite lately, that my MS. had produced no effect on you, and this has often staggered me. Nor did I know that you had spoken in general terms about my work to our friends, excepting to dear old Falconer, who some few years ago once told me that I should do more mischief than any ten other naturalists would do good, [and] that I had half spoiled you already! All this is stupid egotistical stuff, and I write it only because you may think me ungrateful for not having valued and understood your sympathy; which God knows is not the case. It is an accursed evil to a man to become so absorbed in any subject as I am in mine.

I was in London yesterday for a few hours with Falconer, and he gave me a magnificent lecture on the age of man. We are not upstarts; we can boast of a pedigree going far back in time coeval with extinct species. He has a grand fact of some large molar tooth in the Trias.

I am quite knocked up, and am going next Monday to revive under Water-cure at Moor Park.

My dear Hooker, yours affectionately,
C. Darwin.

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