The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin – Day 177 of 188

Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker.

Down, [September] 11th [1859].

My dear Hooker,

I corrected the last proof yesterday, and I have now my revises, index, etc., which will take me near to the end of the month. So that the neck of my work, thank God, is broken.

I write now to say that I am uneasy in my conscience about hesitating to look over your proofs, but I was feeling miserably unwell and shattered when I wrote. I do not suppose I could be of hardly any use, but if I could, pray send me any proofs. I should be (and fear I was) the most ungrateful man to hesitate to do anything for you after some fifteen or more years’ help from you.

As soon as ever I have fairly finished I shall be off to Ilkley, or some other Hydropathic establishment. But I shall be some time yet, as my proofs have been so utterly obscured with corrections, that I have to correct heavily on revises.

Murray proposes to publish the first week in November. Oh, good heavens, the relief to my head and body to banish the whole subject from my mind!

I hope to God, you do not think me a brute about your proof-sheets.

Farewell, yours affectionately,
C. Darwin.

Charles Darwin to C. Lyell.

Down, September 20th [1859].

My dear Lyell,

You once gave me intense pleasure, or rather delight, by the way you were interested, in a manner I never expected, in my Coral Reef notions, and now you have again given me similar pleasure by the manner you have noticed my species work. (Sir Charles was President of the Geological section at the meeting of the British Association at Aberdeen in 1859. The following passage occurs in the address: “On this difficult and mysterious subject a work will very shortly appear by Mr. Charles Darwin, the result of twenty years of observations and experiments in Zoology, Botany, and Geology, by which he had been led to the conclusion that those powers of nature which give rise to races and permanent varieties in animals and plants, are the same as those which in much longer periods produce species, and in a still longer series of ages give rise to differences of generic rank. He appears to me to have succeeded by his investigations and reasonings in throwing a flood of light on many classes of phenomena connected with the affinities, geographical distribution, and geological succession of organic beings, for which no other hypothesis has been able, or has even attempted to account.”) Nothing could be more satisfactory to me, and I thank you for myself, and even more for the subject’s sake, as I know well that the sentence will make many fairly consider the subject, instead of ridiculing it. Although your previously felt doubts on the immutability of species, may have more influence in converting you (if you be converted) than my book; yet as I regard your verdict as far more important in my own eyes, and I believe in the eyes of the world than of any other dozen men, I am naturally very anxious about it. Therefore let me beg you to keep your mind open till you receive (in perhaps a fortnight’s time) my latter chapters, which are the most important of all on the favourable side. The last chapter, which sums up and balances in a mass all the arguments contra and pro, will, I think, be useful to you. I cannot too strongly express my conviction of the general truth of my doctrines, and God knows I have never shirked a difficulty. I am foolishly anxious for your verdict, not that I shall be disappointed if you are not converted; for I remember the long years it took me to come round; but I shall be most deeply delighted if you do come round, especially if I have a fair share in the conversion, I shall then feel that my career is run, and care little whether I ever am good for anything again in this life.

Thank you much for allowing me to put in the sentence about your grave doubt. (As to the immutability of species, ‘Origin,’ Edition i., page 310.) So much and too much about myself.

I have read with extreme interest in the Aberdeen paper about the flint tools; you have made the whole case far clearer to me; I suppose that you did not think the evidence sufficient about the Glacial period.

With cordial thanks for your splendid notice of my book.

Believe me, my dear Lyell, your affectionate disciple, Charles Darwin.

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