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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.
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 criticise 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 secondhand."1
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
1 Saturday Review, May 31, 1879.
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 secondhand; no one is to be blamed for this, provided he takes wellestablished facts and acknowledges his sources. 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 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 Athenaum* the Journal of Science,*' the British Journal of Homoeopathy} the Daily News} the Popular Science Review7 — which were all I could expect or wish.
1 May 26, 1879. 2 May 31, 1879. 3 July 26, 1879. 4 July 1879. 6 July 1879. 8 July 29, 1879. 7 January 1880. CHAPTER IV.
THE MANNER IN WHICH MR. DARWIN MET "EVOLUTION, OLD AND NEW."
By 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 engaged—or 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,1 Dr. Ernest Krause published a sketch of the ' Life of Erasmus Darwin,' the author of the 'Zoonomia,' 'Botanic Garden,' and other works. This article bears the title of a 'Contribution to the History of the Descent Theory;' and Dr. Krause has kindly allowed
1 How far Kosmos was "a well-known " journal, I cannot determine. It had just entered upon its second year.