The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin – Day 172 of 188

Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker.

Down, April 2nd [1859].

…I wrote to him [Mr. Murray] and gave him the headings of the chapters, and told him he could not have the MS. for ten days or so; and this morning I received a letter, offering me handsome terms, and agreeing to publish without seeing the MS.! So he is eager enough; I think I should have been cautious, anyhow, but, owing to your letter, I told him most explicitly that I accept his offer solely on condition that, after he has seen part or all the MS., he has full power of retracting. You will think me presumptuous, but I think my book will be popular to a certain extent (enough to ensure [against] heavy loss) amongst scientific and semi-scientific men; why I think so is, because I have found in conversation so great and surprising an interest amongst such men, and some o-scientific [non-scientific] men on this subject, and all my chapters are not nearly so dry and dull as that which you have read on geographical distribution. Anyhow, Murray ought to be the best judge, and if he chooses to publish it, I think I may wash my hands of all responsibility. I am sure my friends, i.e., Lyell and you, have been extraordinarily kind in troubling yourselves on the matter.

I shall be delighted to see you the day before Good Friday; there would be one advantage for you in any other day–as I believe both my boys come home on that day–and it would be almost impossible that I could send the carriage for you. There will, I believe, be some relations in the house– but I hope you will not care for that, as we shall easily get as much talking as my imbecile state allows. I shall deeply enjoy seeing you.

…I am tired, so no more.

My dear Hooker, your affectionate,
C. Darwin.

P.S.–Please to send, well tied up with strong string, my Geographical MS., towards the latter half of next week–i.e., 7th or 8th–that I may send it with more to Murray; and God help him if he tries to read it.

…I cannot help a little doubting whether Lyell would take much pains to induce Murray to publish my book; this was not done at my request, and it rather grates against my pride.

I know that Lyell has been infinitely kind about my affair, but your dashed [i.e., underlined] “induce” gives the idea that Lyell had unfairly urged Murray.

Charles Darwin to Asa Gray.

April 4th [1859].

…You ask to see my sheets as printed off; I assure you that it will be the highest satisfaction to me to do so: I look at the request as a high compliment. I shall not, you may depend, forget a request which I look at as a favour. But (and it is a heavy “but” to me) it will be long before I go to press; I can truly say I am never idle; indeed, I work too hard for my much weakened health; yet I can do only three hours of work daily, and I cannot at all see when I shall have finished: I have done eleven long chapters, but I have got some other very difficult ones: as palaeontology, classifications, and embryology, etc., and I have to correct and add largely to all those done. I find, alas! each chapter takes me on an average three months, so slow I am. There is no end to the necessary digressions. I have just finished a chapter on Instinct, and here I found grappling with such a subject as bees’ cells, and comparing all my notes made during twenty years, took up a despairing length of time.

But I am running on about myself in a most egotistical style. Yet I must just say how useful I have again and again found your letters, which I have lately been looking over and quoting! but you need not fear that I shall quote anything you would dislike, for I try to be very cautious on this head. I most heartily hope you may succeed in getting your “incubus” of old work off your hands, and be in some degree a free man…

Again let me say that I do indeed feel grateful to you…

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.)