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Letter 9120

Fiske, John to Darwin, C. R.

31 Oct 1873

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    Would like much to visit CD before returning to America;

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    is completing his work on evolution [Outlines of cosmic philosophy (1874)] for publication. Hopes to do away with the anthropomorphic distinction made between "divine action" and the "action of natural forces".


67 Great Russell St., | London, W.C.

Oct. 31, 1873.

My dear Mr. Darwin;

Perhaps you may remember that I sent you, through the kindness of your sons, two years ago, some reports of my lectures in defence of evolution in general and natural selection in particular. You were then so good as to write me a letter containing what I have always regarded as the highest & most valuable praise I have ever received from any one.

I am now spending two <or> three months in London, revi<sin>g and completing my work on Evolution, which Macmillan will publish in the spring. It is designed to popularize the views & discoveries of Mr. Spencer and yourself, and will deal also with the metaphysics of the subject, seeking to do away with the absurd anthropomorphic distinction which theological opponents (& Agassiz with them) make between ``divine action'' and the ``action of natural forces.''

I have known & revered you so many years that it would give me great pleasure if I could meet you and shake hands with you before leaving England. There are some subjects about <w>hich I would fain have a word or two of conversation, but as Mr. Spencer tells me that you are (like himself) feeling poorly at present, and as I know what a bore philosophy is under such circumstances, I shall seek for nothing more than to tell you face to face how much I, in common with all thinking men, owe to you. I shall surely be in England until after Christmas, & will come to Beckenham for an hour or so at any time that may be convenient to you.

I left behind, in America, an article for the Oct. North American on the ``Progress from Brute to Man'', and an attack on Agassiz's fals<e> philosophy in the Oct. Popular Science Monthly. It is very likely that either or both might perhaps have some interest for you, and the latter certainly you will not have seen unless Dr Youmans has sent you a copy, for it is tabu in the English market. If you haven't them, I will see that copies are forwarded to you from America.

My friend Chauncey Wright (who talked ``Darwinism'' to me all the while I was packing my trunk for Europe) sends his warmest regards to you, in which I too join, and am, always with deepest respect, | Yours very truly, | John Fiske.

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