A well-written, well-argued treatise on the volatile subject of the evolution of new species by natural selection. At the time, this flew in the face of accepted theories, and especially upset current theological doctrine, Archbishop Ussher would be particularly upset!.
Darwin agonised for years over the publication of his book, and it was only at the urging of his friends (that he was about to be upstaged by Wallace) that he finally published. The delay was of his own making - torn between the evidence of his notes and correspondence with Wallace, and the furore that would inevitably result. The furore was bound to happen anyway, surrounded as he was by small-minded bigots, so he should have published earlier. But ... this might have deprived us of the brilliant arguments he puts forth in support of each section in the book.
He obviously knew what he was up against, so he tried to present his case as lucidly as possible - and here's the unusual aspect of the work - in layman's language! This was almost unheard of in a Victorian Scientific treatise - they were meant to be read by Scientists, not the hoy-poloy! He tries to counter every conceivable objection to each statement, as nicely (in both senses of the word) as possible, without any of the fervour and tunnel vision that one expects from a convert to a new ideal. He takes us by the hand and gently walks us through the evidence in support of his theory, helping us to realise that, yes, he is talking sense, no matter what our pre-conceptions of life might be.
Discover for yourself that evolution is not 'survival of the fittest', but 'survival of the most fit' - that is, fitted for that particular ecological niche - fittest being a Victorian word that has taken a different modern meaning.
An amazingly good read, even for our enlightened times, but recommended reading - I'll bet there are hundereds of copies on dusty bookshelves that have never been read - time to dust it off and find out for yourself the genius of the man.*****