CD gives his criticisms of GHD's essay on religion and the moral sense. Urges him to delay publishing for some months and then to consider whether it is new and important enough to counterbalance the effects of its publication. J. S. Mill would never have influenced the age as he has done had he not refrained from expressing his religious convictions. Cites John Morley's Life of Voltaire : direct attacks produce little effect; real good comes from slow and silent side attacks. "My advice is to pause, pause, pause."
My dear George
I have read your essay & I deliberately think it clever, interesting
& clear: but remember that I am not a good critic (nor indeed on any
subject) as I have not read much on such subjects. The preliminary sketch is
so far true, that I am sure it applies to myself, but whether new enough or
important enough to be worth giving is doubtful.— You expose well
the fallacy in what Arnold says about prayer.— What you say about the moral
sense still seems to me the newest & cleverest part; & that
about future rewards & punishments perhaps least so. But for several reasons I
Your affectionate Father | Ch Darwin
P.S. Oct 22
I repeat that your essay seems to me clever & interesting, but I urge you to pause long, & if you do, I do not think that you will publish it.
Remember that every author worth a fig writes far more than he ever publishes. On the whole after deliberating to the best of my power I advise you not to publish; but in such cases every man must judge for himself.
- f1 9105.f1The year is established by the date of the Litchfields' visit and the discussion of John Stuart Mill's Autobiography.
- f2 9105.f2The Litchfields - Richard Buckley Litchfield and Henrietta Litchfield née Darwin - stayed with CD and Emma Darwin from 25 September 1873 to 22 October 1873 (see Emma Darwin's diary for 1873). The Dicey referred to here is probably Albert Venn Dicey.
- f3 9105.f3John Stuart Mill's Autobiography was published between 16-31 October 1873 (Publishers' Circular). It was reviewed in the Daily News of 18 October 1873, indicating that a more precise publication date is c. 17 October 1873. It is very likely that Dicey and Litchfield were referring to the following passage, from the second chapter: ``I am thus one of the very few examples, in this country, of one who has, not thrown off religious belief, but never had it … . In giving me an opinion contrary to that of the world, my father thought it necessary to give it as one which could not prudently be avowed to the world.''