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Reflecting upon the substance of what I have written in the last few pages, I thought it right that people should have a chance of knowing more about the earlier writers on evolution than they were likely to hear from any of our leading scientists (no matter how many lectures they may give on the coming of age of the Origin of Species) except Professor Mivart.°A book pointing the difference between teleological and nonteleological views of evolution seemed likely to be useful, and would afford me the opportunity I wanted for giving a résumé of the views of each one of the three chief founders of the theory, and of contrasting them with those of Mr. Charles Darwin, as well as for calling attention to Professor Hering's lecture. I accordingly wrote Evolution, Old and New, which was prominently announced in the leading literary periodicals at the end of February, or on the very first days of March 1879, as “a comparison of the theories of Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, and Lamarck, with that of Mr. Charles Darwin, with copious extracts from the works of the three first-named writers." In this book I was hardly able to conceal the fact that, in spite of the obligations under which we must always remain to Mr. Darwin, I had lost my respect for him and for his work.
I should point out that this announcement, coupled with what I had written in Life and Habit, would enable Mr. Darwin and his friends to form a pretty shrewd guess as to what I was likely to say, and to quote from Dr. Erasmus Darwin in my forthcoming book. The announcement, indeed, would tell almost as much as the book itself to those who knew the works of Erasmus Darwin.
The first announcement was in the Examiner, 22nd February
As may be supposed, Evolution, Old and New met with a very unfavourable reception at the hands of many of its reviewers. The Saturday Review was furious. “When a writer,” it exclaimed,“ who has not given as many weeks to the subject as Mr. Darwin has given years, is not content to air his own crude though clever fallacies, but assumes to criticize Mr. Darwin with the superciliousness of a young schoolmaster looking over a boy's theme, it is difficult not to take him more seriously than he deserves or perhaps desires. One would think that Mr. Butler was the travelled and laborious observer of Nature, and Mr. Darwin the pert speculator who takes all his facts at second-hand.” i
The lady or gentleman who writes in such a strain as this should not be too hard upon others whom she or he may consider to write like schoolmasters. It is true I have travelled- not much, but still as much as many others, and have endeavoured to keep my eyes open to the facts before me; but I cannot think that I made any reference to my travels in Evolution, Old and New. I did not quite see what that had to do with the matter. A man may get to know a good deal without ever going beyond the four-mile radius from Charing Cross. Much less did I imply that Mr. Darwin was pert: pert is one of the last words that can be applied to Mr. Darwin. Nor, again, had I blamed him for taking his facts at second-hand; no one is to be blamed for this, provided he takes well-established facts and acknowledges his
Mr. Darwin has generally gone to good sources. The ground of complaint against him is that he muddied the water after he had drawn it, and tacitly claimed to be the rightful owner of the spring, on the score of the damage he had effected. Notwithstanding, however, the generally hostile, or Saturday Review, 31st May 1879.
more or less contemptuous, reception which Evolution, Old and New met with, there were some reviews-as, for example, those in the Field, the Daily Chronicle, the Athenaeum, the Journal of Science," the British Journal of Homoeopathy, the Daily News, the Popular Science Review ? - which were all I could expect or wish.
CHAPTER FOUR: THE MANNER IN WHICH MR. DARWIN
MET EVOLUTION, OLD AND NEW
Y FAR THE MOST IMPORTANT NOTICE
of Evolution, Old and New was that taken by Mr. Darwin himself; for I can hardly be mistaken in
believing that Dr. Krause's article would have been allowed to repose unaltered in the pages of the well-known German scientific journal, Kosmos, unless something had happened to make Mr. Darwin feel that his reticence concerning his grandfather must now be ended.
Mr. Darwin, indeed, gives me the impression of wishing me to understand that this is not the case. At the beginning of this year he wrote to me, in a letter which I will presently give in full, that he had obtained Dr. Krause's consent for a translation, and had arranged with Mr. Dallas, before my book was announced.” “I remember this,” he continues, “ because Mr. Dallas wrote to tell me of the advertisement.' But Mr. Darwin is not a clear writer, and it is impossible to say whether he is referring to the announcement of Evolution, Old and New-in which case he means that the arrangements for the translation of Dr. Krause's article were made before the end of February 1879, and before any public intimation could have reached him as to the substance of the book on which I was then engagedor to the advertisements of its being now published, which appeared at the beginning of May; in which case, as I have said above, Mr. Darwin and his friends had for some time had full opportunity of knowing what I was about. I believe, however, Mr. Darwin to intend that he remembered the arrangements having been made before the beginning of May-his use of the word “ announced,” instead of “ advertised,” being an accident; but let this pass. Some time after Mr. Darwin's work appeared in November 1879, I got it, and looking at the last page of the book, I read as follows:
They (the elder Darwin and Lamarck) explain the adaptation to purpose of organisms by an obscure impulse or sense of what is purpose-like; yet even with regard to man we are in the habit of saying, that one can never know what so-and-so is good for. The purpose-like is that which approves itself, and not always that which is struggled for by obscure impulses and desires. Just in the same way the beautiful is what pleases.
I had a sort of feeling as though the writer of the above might have had Evolution, Old and New in his mind, but went on to the next sentence, which ran:
“Erasmus Darwin's system was in itself a most significant first step in the path of knowledge which his grandson has opened up for us, but to wish to revive it at the present day, as has actually been seriously attempted, shows a weakness of thought and a mental anachronism which no one can envy.
“That's me,” said I to myself promptly. I noticed also the position in which the sentence stood, which made it both one of the first that would be likely to catch a reader's eye, and the last he would carry away with him. I therefore expected to find an open reply to some parts of Evolution, Old and New, and turned to Mr. Darwin's preface.
To my surprise, I there found that what I had been reading could not by any possibility refer to me, for the preface ran as follows:
“In the February number of a well-known German scientific journal, Kosmos," Dr. Ernst Krause published a sketch of the Life of Erasmus Darwin, the author of the Zoonomia, Botanic Garden, and other works. This
How far Kosmos was a "well-known" journal, I cannot determine. It had just entered upon its second year.