English naturalist (1809-1882). Autograph letter signed. Down, Beckenham, Kent. 13.01.1881. 8vo. 2 pp. - (Bound before): Krause, Ernst. Erasmus Darwin. Translated from the German by W. S. Dallas. With a preliminary notice by Charles Darwin. London, John Murray, 1879. 8vo. IV, 216 pp. With a portrait frontispiece and a fullpage illustration. Full.
$ 47,412 / 45.000 €
To the writer and critic Sir Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), whose copy this book is, responding to Sir Leslie's reassurances after having been attacked by the novelist Samuel Butler (1835-1902): "My dear Leslie Stephen. Your note is one of the kindest which I have ever received, & your advice shall be strictly followed. It was very good of you, busy as you are, to take so much trouble for me; but your trouble will not be thrown away, in so far as when in the dead of the night the thought comes across me how I have been treated, I will resolutely try to banish the thoughts, & say to myself that so good a judge as Leslie Stephen thinks nothing of the false accusation.
The Litchfields & some of my other children are intensely curious to read your judgment. Believe me / yours ever gratefully / Charles Darwin. / I have written on opposite page my name if you think fit to paste it into the Life of E.D.; but I much wish that you would name one or more of the books, written wholly by myself, which I could treat in the same manner for you." Indeed, the dedication "From Charles Darwin / with kindest regards / Jan. 13th 1881" has been cut out and mounted on the flyleaf, and underneath Sir Leslie has added by way of explanation: "The letter upon the next page refers to a silly attack made upon Darwin by Butler of 'Erewhon' etc. I had given Darwin the obvious advice to take no more notice of the creature, D. having already made a sufficient acknowledgement of a trifling error. For details see 'Academy' of the period. LS. - Darwin afterwards sent me the 'Origin of the Species' & the Voyage of the Beagle." - The physician Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), Charles's grandfather, espoused an early theory of evolution all his own, which he sketched, obliquely, in a question at the end of a long footnote to his popular poem "The Loves of the Plants" (1789). Samuel Butler rejected Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. In his 1879 book "Evolution, Old and New" he accused Darwin of having borrowed heavily from and distorted Buffon, Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck, trying to reinstate these earlier thinkers and with them, the design argument. - Provenance: By descent to Leslie Stephen's daughter, the writer Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), who left it to her husband, the writer Leonard Woolf (1880-1969). Woolf had the book auctioned at Sotheby's a year before his death (sale of Feb. 29/20, 1968, lot 279); acquired by a northern Swedish collector, whose descendants returned it to the trade..