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Letter 6401

Rolleston, George to Darwin, C. R.

30 Sept 1868

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    CD's doctrines apply to man's mental organisation, but the soul is a different matter. Cites Dean Henry Alford, M. J. Berkeley, and Prof. [J. F.?] Ferrier.

Transcription

Oxford.

Sept 30. 1868.

My dear Sir.

When I had the advantage of seeing you in the College of Surgeons early this year, I ventured to make some remarks to you upon the extent to which your doctrines were applicable to our mental organization. I said then that I would, with your permission, send to you an extract from a paper by Dean Alford which appeared in the ``Good Words'' for January 1868. This I do now; and I have pasted on the same sheet of paper some remarks of my own which I made in an Address I had to deliver a few weeks back before the British Medical Association. I may say that I understood Mr Berkeley to take much the same line in the Address which he delivered a few days ago at Norwich to the Biological Section of the British Association.

That a man's ratiocinative powers are qualitatively not dissimilar from those of the lower animals and very largely dependent upon his material organization may be granted. And what applies to the method by which these powers and structures have been evolved in the lower creatures will be considered by most men to be more or less applicable to the method by which these powers and structures have been perfected in us. But here the question of the difference of soul or life from spirit comes in; and I suppose that Dean Alford, like Professor Ferriar and myself, would say with DesCartes that the lower animals were merely animated machines.—

I will not however trouble you with any more mss, for all I have to lay before you is in print on the accompanying piece of foolscap—

I must beg of you not to trouble Yourself to answer this—

I am | Yours very Truly | George Rolleston

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 06401.f1
    CD may have visited the Royal College of Surgeons in March 1868; he was in London from 3 March until 1 April (see `Journal' (Appendix II)).
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    f2 06401.f2
    Henry Alford, dean of Canterbury, was a frequent contributor to Good Words (ODNB). The extracts sent by Rolleston are in DAR 80: 171 and comprise most of page 26 of Alford 1868 and two paragraphs of Rolleston's address on physiology delivered on 5 August 1868 to the annual meeting of the British Medical Association at Oxford (Rolleston 1868, p. 184).
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    f3 06401.f3
    Miles Joseph Berkeley gave the opening address to the biology section at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in August 1868 (Berkeley 1868). See the letter to M. J. Berkeley, 7 September 1868, for CD's comments on the address; see also letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 September 1868.
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    f4 06401.f4
    Rolleston refers probably to the Scottish metaphysician, James Frederick Ferrier, and to René Descartes.
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