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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/644

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

every clever man in England, if he chooses, may make as many ill-natured remarks as he likes on this unfortunate sentence.'" Eight years later, "Writing plain English grows with me more and more difficult, and never attainable." While writing the "Origin of Species," although, he says, "No nigger with lash over him could have worked harder at clearness than I have done," he found the style incredibly bad, and most difficult to make clear and smooth. When informed by Lubbock of a blunder he had made in the principle of some calculation, which it would require two or three weeks of work to correct, he exclaimed, "I am the most miserable, bemuddled, stupid dog in all England, and am ready to cry with vexation at my blindness and presumption"; and, "If I am as muzzy on all subjects as I am on proportion and chance, what a book I shall produce!"

The question of priority, which arose between Mr. Darwin and Mr. Wallace—both having an announcement of the theory of natural selection ready to publish at the same time—was settled in a manner creditable to both gentlemen, and which adds luster to the scientific spirit. The letters show how far from rivalry were the feelings of both. Another question of priority arose after the "Origin" was published, when Mr. Patrick Matthew brought forth an extract from a work on "Naval Timber and Architecture," published in 1831, in which, says Mr. Darwin, "he briefly but completely anticipates the theory of natural selection. I have ordered the book, as some few passages are rather obscure, but it is certainly, I think, a complete but not developed anticipation!. . . Anyhow, one may be excused in not having discovered the fact in a work on naval timber." Mr. Darwin published an apology to Mr. Matthew for his entire ignorance of this publication; but the latter could not get over the feeling that another man had won the fame that he had missed. It afterward appeared that a Dr. Schaaffhausen had nearly anticipated his view in a pamphlet published at Bonn in 1853; and still later that Dr. Wells had applied "most distinctly" the principle of natural selection to the races of men in his "Essay on Dew," which was read to the Royal Society in 1813. A letter to Herbert Spencer, written in 1858, acknowledging the receptions of a volume of essays from him, is of interest as showing the relations of the work of these two laborers in adjoining fields. "Your remarks," says Mr. Darwin, "on the general argument of the so-called development theory seem to me admirable. I am at present preparing an abstract of a larger work on the changes of species; but I treat the subject simply as a naturalist, and not from a general point of view, otherwise, in my opinion, your argument could not have been improved on, and might have been quoted by me with great advantage." Of one of the numbers of Spencer's "Principles of Biology" Mr. Darwin observed: "I feel rather mean when I read him; I could bear, and rather enjoy feeling that he was twice as ingenious and clever as myself, but when I feel that he is about a dozen times my superior,