(247/1. Mr. Fiske, who is perhaps best known in England as the author of "Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy," had sent to Mr. Darwin some reports of the lectures given at Harvard University. The point referred to in the postscript in Mr. Darwin's letter is explained by the following extract from Mr. Fiske's work: "I have endeavoured to show that the transition from animality (or bestiality, stripping the word of its bad connotations) to humanity must have been mainly determined by the prolongation of infancy or immaturity which is consequent upon a high development of intelligence, and which must have necessitated the gradual grouping together of pithecoid men into more or less definite families." (See "Descent," I., page 13, on the prolonged infancy of the anthropoid apes.))
I am greatly obliged to you for having sent me, through my son, your lectures, and for the very honourable manner in which you allude to my works. The lectures seem to me to be written with much force, clearness, and originality. You show also a truly extraordinary amount of knowledge of all that has been published on the subject. The type in many parts is so small that, except to young eyes, it is very difficult to read. Therefore I wish that you would reflect on their separate publication, though so much has been published on the subject that the public may possibly have had enough. I hope that this may be your intention, for I do not think I have ever seen the general argument more forcibly put so as to convert unbelievers.
It has surprised and pleased me to see that you and others have detected the falseness of much of Mr. Mivart's reasoning. I wish I had read your lectures a month or two ago, as I have been preparing a new edition of the "Origin," in which I answer some special points, and I believe I should have found your lectures useful; but my MS. is now in the printer's hands, and I have not strength or time to make any more additions.
P.S.--By an odd coincidence, since the above was written I have received your very obliging letter of October 23rd. I did notice the point to which you refer, and will hereafter reflect more over it. I was indeed on the point of putting in a sentence to somewhat of the same effect in the new edition of the "Origin," in relation to the query--Why have not apes advanced in intellect as much as man? but I omitted it on account of the asserted prolonged infancy of the orang. I am also a little doubtful about the distinction between gregariousness and sociability.
...When you come to England I shall have much pleasure in making your acquaintance; but my health is habitually so weak that I have very small power of conversing with my friends as much as I wish. Let me again thank you for your letter. To believe that I have at all influenced the minds of able men is the greatest satisfaction I am capable of receiving.
LETTER 248. TO E. HACKEL. Down, December 27th, 1871.
I thank you for your very interesting letter, which it has given me much pleasure to receive. I never heard of anything so odd as the Prior in the Holy Catholic Church believing in our ape-like progenitors. I much hope that the Jesuits will not dislodge him.
What a wonderfully active man you are! and I rejoice that you have been so successful in your work on sponges. (248/1. "Die Kalkschwamme: eine Monographie; 3 volumes: Berlin, 1872. H.J. Clark published a paper "On the Spongiae Ciliatae as Infusoria flagellata" in the "Mem. Boston Nat. Hist. Soc." Volume I., Part iii., 1866. See Hackel, op. cit., Volume I., page 24.) Your book with sixty plates will be magnificent. I shall be glad to learn what you think of Clark's view of sponges being flagellate infusorians; some observers in this country believe in him. I am glad you are going fully to consider inheritance, which is an all-important subject for us. I do not know whether you have ever read my chapter on pangenesis. My ideas have been almost universally despised, and I suppose that I was foolish to publish them; yet I must still think that there is some truth in them. Anyhow, they have aided me much in making me clearly understand the facts of inheritance.