[To Anton Dohrn]
As you know, I did not think you were on the right track with the Arthropods, and I am not going to profess to be sorry that you have finally worked yourself to that conclusion.
As to the unlucky publication in the Journal of Anatomy and Physiology, you have read your Shakespeare and know what is meant by "eating a leek." Well, every honest man has to do that now and then, and I assure you that if eaten fairly and without grimaces, the devouring of that herb has a very wholesome cooling effect on the blood, particularly in people of sanguine temperament.
Seriously you must not mind a check of this kind.
We had a capital meeting at Norwich, and dear old Hooker came out in great force as he always does in emergencies.
The only fault was the terrible "Darwinismus" which spread over the section and crept out where you least expected it, even in Fergusson's lecture on "Buddhist temples."
You will have the rare happiness to see your ideas triumphant during your lifetime.
P. S.I am preparing to go into opposition; I can't stand it.
[This paper] is about a new "Moner" which lies at the bottom of the Atlantic to all appearances, and gives rise to some wonderful calcified bodies. I have christened it Bathybius Haeckelii, and I hope you will not be ashamed of your god-child. I will send you some of the mud with the paper.
November 13, 1868
We shall at once look out for a good translator of the text [Morphologie], as the job will be a long and a tough one. My wife (who sends her best wishes and congratulations on your fatherhood) will do the bits of Goethe's poetry, and I will look after the prose citations.
Next as to the text itself. The council were a little alarmed at the bulk of the book, and it is of the utmost importance that it would be condensed to the uttermost.
Furthermore, English propriety had taken fright at rumours touching the aggressive heterodoxy of some passages. (We do not much mind heterodoxy here, if it does not openly proclaim itself as such.)
And on both these points I had not only to give very distinct assurances such as I thought your letters had entitled me to give, but in a certain sense to become myself responsible for your behaving yourself like a good boy!
If I had not known you and understood your nature and disposition as I fancy I do, I should not have allowed myself to be put in this position; but I have implicit faith in your doing what is wise and right, and so making it tenable.
There is not the slightest desire to make you mutiliate your book or leave out anything which you conceive to be absolutely essential; and I on my part should certainly not think of asking you to make any alteration which would not in my judgment improve the book quite irrespectively of the tastes of the British public.
[Alterations are suggested.] But I stop. By ths time you will be swearing at me for attacking all your favourite bits. Let me know what you think about these matters.
I congratulate you and Madame Haeckel heartily on the birth of your boy. Children work a greater metamorphosis in men than any other condition of life. They ripen one wonderfully and make life ten times better worth having than it was.