Has resolved not to correct Owen's misrepresentations in his review of Origin.
Discusses at length the theological implications of natural selection.
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Lyell
I was very glad to get your nice long letter from Torquay. A press of letters prevented
me writing to Wells.— I was particularly glad to
hear what you thought about not noticing Owen's Review. Hooker
& Huxley thought it a sort of duty to point out alterations of quoted citations;
& there is truth in this remark, but I so hated the thought, that I resolved not
to do so. I shall come up to London on Saturday 24
I must say one more word about our quasi-theological controversy about natural
Selection, & let me have your opinion when we meet in London.— Do you
consider that the successive variations in size of the crop of the Pouter Pigeon, which
man has accumulated to please his caprice, have been due to ``the creative &
sustaining powers of Brahma''. In the sense that an omnipotent
& omniscient Deity must order & know everything, this must be admitted;
yet in honest truth I can hardly admit it. It seems preposterous that a maker of
For the life of me I cannot see any difficulty in Natural selection producing the most exquisite structure, if such structure can be arrived at by gradation; & I know from experience how hard it is to name any structure towards which at least some gradations are not known.—
Ever yours | C. Darwin
The conclusion at which I have come, as I have told Asa Gray, is that such question, as is touched on in this note, is beyond the human intellect, like ``predestination & free will'' or ``the origin of evil''.
- f1 2761.f1Dated by CD's reference to a forthcoming trip to London (see n. 4, below).
- f2 2761.f2Probably the town of Wells in Somerset. Lyell may have indicated that he was staying there en route to Torquay.
- f3 2761.f3CD was upset by Richard Owen's misrepresentation in [R. Owen] 1860a of several of his views. See letters to T. H. Huxley, 9 April , and to Charles Lyell, 10 April .
- f4 2761.f4CD was mistaken about the date: Saturday was 21 April 1860. Emma Darwin's diary records that CD went to London on this date. Benjamin Collins Brodie, president of the Royal Society, held a soir´ee in the society's rooms at Burlington House on 21 April (Athenæum, 28 April 1860, p. 584).
- f5 2761.f5This is possibly a repetition of an expression used in conversation with Lyell during his recent visit to Down, 9 to 12 March 1860. See also letter to Charles Lyell, 12 March . In Lyell's scientific journal, there is a note written late in March headed `Natural Selection deified', in which Lyell refers to `the Creator, Brahma' (Wilson ed. 1970, p. 369).
- f6 2761.f6See letter to Asa Gray, 24 February .