See inception of Darwin's theory, development of Darwin's theory, publication of Darwin's theory, reaction to Darwin's theory and Darwin from Orchids to Variation for events leading up to this article. See Darwin from Insectivorous plants to Worms for his life and work in the following period.
Darwin continued his research on variation while also diverting for a time to show the utility of the flowers of Orchids in directing insect pollination to achieve cross fertilisation. As the culmination of thirteen years of experiments, The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication went on sale on 30 January 1868, and was well received.
To meet a lack of books supporting the Origin on natural selection, Darwin arranged with John Murray to publish a translation of Für Darwin, written by Fritz Müller exiled in Brazil. Darwin provided £100 subsidy and arranged the translator, and Facts and Arguments for Darwin. sold well.
In the spring of 1868 Darwin got information on newts from St George Mivart, a brilliant anatomist and one of Huxley's protégés who had dropped law for zoology after hearing Owen lecture. He assured Darwin that "As to "natural selection" I accepted it completely" but added that he had "doubts & difficulties.. first excited by attending Prof. Huxley's lectures".
These ideas raised a dilemma, of evolution working against progress. Darwin found help in Walter Bagehot's essays on Physics and Politics in the Fortnightly Review which argued that progress depended on the command structure of society. Civilisation came from obedience, respect for law and a "military bond". Through tribal and imperial battles new racial and national types would emerge, selected as "The characters which do win in war are the characters which we should wish to win in war". Darwin added his comment "nations which wander & cross would be most likely to vary" in the face of wider competition, and commended to Hooker Bagehot's analysis of "prehistoric politics".
Hooker's address to the Norwich British Association was a great success for the X Club (a dining club formed in November 1864 to support the evolutionary "new reformation" in naturalism, including Huxley, Hooker, John Tyndall, Busk, Spencer, and Spottiswoode). Darwin arrived home on 21 August 1868 with a clutch of the day's newspapers carrying the address and editorial comments. The Guardian said Darwinism's "reign was triumphant", and it was generally said that the disciples were "ready to push their consequences more fearlessly than the master himself". Darwin enjoyed John Tyndall's lecture in which the physicist widened the application of his theory.
Ernst Haeckel's Darwinismus was even more universal, incorporating life, mind, society, politics and knowledge itself, though Darwin had struggled with reading his book and his efforts to get it translated were thwarted as the book proved too controversial. Haeckel, the "indomitable worker", quickly produced his History of Creation. An impressed Huxley adopted Haeckel's approach, and did what he had told Darwin was impossible and wrong, drawing up a genealogical tree for the ancestry of partridges and pigeons which traced them back to the dinosaurs. Huxley also arranged audiences for Germans arriving to pay their "devotions at the shrine of Mr. Darwin".
That autumn, Asa Gray came to England with his wife for a long rest from "drudgery" at Harvard. He spent the time with Hooker at Kew, visiting the Darwins at weekends. There were many other visitors at this time, including Gray's friend Charles Eliot Norton who brought his wife and her sister Sara Sedgwick, who caught William Darwin's eye. Gray was theologically uncomfortable with the implications of Variation, and returned home wanting to avoid further "Darwinian discussions" or become "mixed up" with the Huxley set.
Huxley was charged with heresy after giving a Sunday "lay sermon" in Edinburgh "on the physical basis of life". In April the "Metaphysical Society", a group of liberal churchmen of all denominations and even atheists, attempted to reach a consensus and Huxley coined a new label for his position – agnostic. Wallace was now arguing that human brains were an over-endowment created by "spiritual forces" rather than natural selection, leading Darwin to write "I differ grievously from you, and I am very sorry for it".
Mivart gained his Fellowship of the Royal Society on 3 June with Huxley's help, then surprised him by announcing that he was going to publish his objections to Darwinian views of human nature and morality. Mivart placed anonymous articles criticising natural selection in the Catholic Month. The Duke of Argyll published his Primeval Man arguing that man could not rise unaided from "utter barbarism", and that "savages" were degenerates forced out by fitter races. Argyll claimed that "Man must have had the human proportions of mind before he could afford to lose bestial proportions of body", contrasting a gorilla with an elder of the British Association, but Darwin noted that without remains of ancestors there was no evidence for this, and that man's vulnerability would have encouraged social cohesion and moral sense.
Emma also advised, writing that the treatment of morals and religion might be "very interesting", but she would still "dislike it very much as again putting God further off". They took a break in mid May 1870 along with Henrietta and Bessy to visit Cambridge where Horace had started and Frank was graduating with a good mathematics degree. Charles was haunted by the absence of "Dear Henslow", but on the last day met Sedgwick who was overjoyed to see him with his "dear family party". They had a long chat, with Sedgwick not mentioning the Origin, possibly from tact though Darwin thought his brain "enfeebled". Late in the day Sedgwick insisted on showing Charles round his new geological museum, by the end of which Darwin was "utterly prostrated". As Darwin on struggled to get to the train the next day he remarked on the humiliation of being "thus killed by a man of eighty-six, who evidently never dreamed that he was thus killing me?".
The South American Missionary Society had converted and clothed the natives of Tierra del Fuego that Darwin thought were untameable, and after Bartholomew Sulivan sent a photograph of Jemmy Button's son as evidence, Darwin made donations for several years. Darwin was proud to become an honorary member, but warned Sulivan that he would shortly publish "another book partly on man, which I dare say many will decry as very wicked".
Darwin's neighbour Lubbock had been elected Member of Parliament for Maidstone in February 1870 and Darwin lobbied him to get a question added to the census to find if married cousins had as many surviving children as unrelated parents, but when it came up in July, Lubbock's amendment caused furious debate and was heavily defeated. As the Franco-Prussian war got under way, Darwin pressed on to finish the manuscript while worrying about how it would affect his German allies. When the French surrendered at Sedan in November he wrote that "I have not met a soul in England who does not rejoice in the splendid triumph of Germany over France... It is a most just retribution against that vainglorious, war-liking nation." An "ailing and grumbling" Darwin worked on with his corrections, and the proofs were sent off on 15 January 1871 with him doubting that the book was "worth publishing". He promptly started on his next book, using left over material on emotional expressions.
Just at this point parish affairs intruded. The Revd. Henry Powell had now taken over, but the two previous curates got together to sue Darwin for defamatory remarks about the first absconding with the school's cash. Darwin wrote to Brodie Innes that "being examined in court could half-kill me, but was assured that the case would never come to court.
The Prussians had been defeated, but 26 March an insurrection led by socialists and republicans took over Paris and set up the Paris Commune, which was then besieged by French troops. The Times condemned the Communards, and accused Darwin of undermining authority and principles of morality, opening the way to "the most murderous revolutions". A "man incurs a grave responsibility when, with the authority of a well-earned reputation, he advances at such a time the disintegrating speculations of this book." Darwin was able to shrug this off as from a "windbag full of metaphysics and classics". When his Tory friend Brodie Innes taunted him that God's scheme, before being thwarted by interfering radicals, was that "Man was made a man..[split] into niggers who must be made to work [and] better men able to make them", Darwin responded that "I consider myself a good way ahead of you, as far as this goes."
He dismissed the objections raised in Wallace's review in the Academy as "almost stereotyped", but to his brother Erasmus Alvey Darwin the generous and polite exchanges formed a "perfectly beautiful" controversy, and thought that "In future histories of science the Wallace-Darwin episode will form one of the few bright points."
In June Edward L. Youmans, over from the United States to seek authors for his International Scientific Series, told Darwin about lecturing on the Descent of Man to a "clerical club" in Brooklyn. Darwin burst out "What! Clergymen of different denominations all together? How they would fight if you should get them together here!" He was cheered by a damning analysis of Mivart's Genesis of Species by Chauncey Wright (one of Gray's students) for the North American Review, and thought of importing it, but Wallace thought it too heavy and obscure.
Next Mivart's anonymous Quarterly Review article claimed that the Descent of Man would unsettle "our half educated classes" and talked of people doing as they pleased, breaking laws and customs. The author was obvious to a furious Darwin who thought "I shall soon be viewed as the most despicable of men". He wrote to ask Wright for permission to reprint his article as a pamphlet, then feeling "giddy and bad" was taken by Emma to recuperate at the nearby hamlet of Albury. His head remained "rocky and wretched" and for two months he suffered giddiness and inability to work. They returned for Henrietta's marriage after a whirlwind courtship to Richard Litchfield. She departed, leaving behind her fox terrier "Polly" who now became Darwin's dog.
Murray sent out copies of Wright's pamphlet in September 1871. Only fourteen sold, but by then Huxley had already written a cutting review of Mivart's book and article. A relieved Darwin told him "How you do smash Mivart's theology... He may write his worst & he will never mortify me again". Hooker thought he surely would not be the happier for Mivart's humiliation, but an unrepentant Darwin responded that '"I am not so good a Christian as you think me, for I did enjoy my revenge".
In December Darwin completed extensive revisions of the Origin, using the word "evolution" for the first time and adding a new chapter to refute Mivart's guided jumps, tackling the argument of uselessness of part-evolved organs with myriad examples of gradual development or organs changing function. As 1872 began, Mivart politely inflamed the argument again, writing "wishing you very sincerely a happy new year" while wanting a disclaimer of the "fundamental intellectual errors" in the Descent of Man. This time Darwin ended the correspondence.
Wallace now wrote enthusing about H. Charlton Bastian's The Beginnings of Life claiming the spontaneous generation of life, but Darwin told him that "I have taken up old botanical work, and have given up all theories". By the end of September he was again near collapse, but Emma arranged three weeks away to rest, which worked well though he was still "growing old and weak".
Hooker's collections at Kew were threatened with government cuts under Acton Smee Ayrton. The X Club petitioned Gladstone. When Richard Owen was found to be involved, possibly trying to bring Kew under his British Museum, Darwin commented that "I used to be ashamed of hating him so much, but now I will carefully cherish my hatred & contempt to the last days of my life". In October Hooker sent sun-dews and Venus fly-traps for Darwin's experiments, then was devastated when his bedridden mother died. In his hot-house Darwin experimented, giving such plants from around the world a variety of foods and poisons, and began writing insectivorous Plants.
The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals proved very popular, selling over 5,000 copies, but an exhausted Darwin became a "confirmed invalid" and at his brother Eramus's over Christmas 1872 sat drawing up his will.
See Darwin from Insectivorous plants to Worms for his life and work in this period.