Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/185

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177
RECEPTION OF THE 'ORIGIN OF SPECIES.'
ON THE RECEPTION OF THE 'ORIGIN OF SPECIES.'[1]
By Professor HUXLEY.

TO the present generation, that is to say, the people a few years on the hither and thither side of thirty, the name of Charles Darwin stands alongside of those of Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday; and, like them, calls up the grand ideal of a searcher after truth and interpreter of Nature. They think of him who bore it as a rare combination of genius, industry, and unswerving veracity, who earned his place among the most famous men of the age by sheer native power, in the teeth of a gale of popular prejudice, and uncheered by a sign of favour or appreciation from the official fountains of honour; as one who in spite of an acute sensitiveness to praise and blame, and notwithstanding provocations which might have excused any outbreak, kept himself clear of all envy, hatred, and malice, nor dealt otherwise than fairly and justly with the unfairness and injustice which was showered upon him; while, to the end of his days, he was ready to listen with patience and respect to the most insignificant of reasonable objectors.

And with respect to that theory of the origin of the forms of life peopling our globe, with which Darwin's name is bound up as closely as that of Newton with the theory of gravitation, nothing seems to be further from the mind of the present generation than any attempt to

  1. In the last issue of The Popular Science Monthly the original announcement by Darwin and Wallace of the theory of organic evolution by natural selection was reprinted from the 'Journal' of the Linnean Society for 1858. The 'Origin of Species' was published on November 24, 1859; its reception by scientific men, by churchmen and by the general public forms one of the most interesting chapters in the history of science. We reproduce part of the account of the matter contributed by Huxley to 'The Life and Letters of Darwin' (1887), and extracts from the reviews published in 1860 in the 'Edinburgh Review,' attributed to Richard Owen, and in 'The American Journal of Science' by Louis Agassiz and Asa Gray. Regarding the Edinburgh reviewer Darwin wrote to Hooker: "Some of my relations say it cannot possibly be———'s article, because the review speaks so very highly of———. Poor dear simple folk." To Gray he wrote regarding the review quoted below: 'Your review seems to me admirable; by far the best that I have read,' and again to Wallace 'Asa Gray fights like a hero in defence.' Huxley also says that Gray 'fought the battle splendidly in the United States,' and ranks him with Hooker, Lubbock and himself. Gray's review in the 'American Journal' and his series of articles in the 'Atlantic Monthly' seem at this time, however, rather colorless and chiefly concerned in arguing that if evolution is true it does not conflict with natural theology.—Editor.