Admits pointer illustration is faulty.
Discusses shame, remorse, social instincts, approbation, and other topics discussed in Descent, ch. 4. "But as yet I nail my colours to the mast."
My dear Hensleigh
I am very much obliged for yr M.S. which has interested me much.—
I will keep it until a new Ed (if ever) is wanted. At present I am so
sick of my whole book that I cannot read any one Chap. with attention.
I will make only a few miscellaneous remarks. I still think, if our
pointer reflected about the hare, the instinct of pointing which was
born in him, & which had been constantly exercized, would, when
the temptation of the live hare was not actually present, appear to him the
one which he ought(?) to have followed; it w
You say that the superiority of the social instincts to animal appetites is that the gratification of the former excites emotions in the mind of the spectator &c— Now I cannot believe that when a man suddenly jumps into a river to save a fellow-creature, or when he suffers death rather than betray a comrade, or when the little monkey attacked the baboon, that they were impelled in the manner supposed by you. It seems to me that there is an instinct to aid our fellows as blind as when a beaver sees a rill of water in a court yard where he is confined & tries to dam it. If you will grant this impulse then I am willing to admit that in 99 out of a 100 cases the praise or blame of our fellows determines what kind of aid shall be given, or what line of conduct shall be followed,—whether in murdering or robbing a stranger; or in saving his life, or in some ridiculous etiquette. The value which we set on public opinion depending as just said, on the enduring social instincts which include sympathy. What an awfully complex subject it is. I suppose no two persons would even quite agree; & I expect hardly any one will even partially agree with me. But as yet I nail my colours to the mast.
With cordial thanks for all your trouble, | yours affectly | Ch Darwin
(I feel much doubt, but yet cannot quite give in)
P.S to letter to Hensleigh— A good pointer, if we c
- f1 7537.f1The year is established by the reference to Descent, which was published on 24 February 1871 (Freeman 1977).
- f2 7537.f2See letter from Hensleigh Wedgwood, [before 3 March 1871]. A second edition of Descent appeared in 1874.
- f3 7537.f3See letter from Hensleigh Wedgwood, [before 3 March 1871] and n. 3.
- f4 7537.f4The word `repentance' does not appear in Descent, but is used in Descent 2d ed., pp. 114--15 and 125.
- f5 7537.f5See letter from Hensleigh Wedgwood, [before 3 March 1871] and n. 6.
- f6 7537.f6The last paragraph is a draft in CD's hand for a postscript that was probably meant to go with this letter; the postscript actually sent has not been found.