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Darwin Correspondence Project


To John Phillips   26 November [1859]

Ilkley Wells House | Otley, Yorkshire

Nov. 26

My dear Phillips.

Thank you for your note.1 Permit me to say one word about my Book. Though many facts in palæontolog may appear, or be really, opposed to my notions, & though my ex-planations may be quite fallacious, I earnestly beg you to consider whether a theory wholly false could explain, as it seems to me to explain, several classes of facts,—as affinity of inhabitants of islands to nearest continent—the nature of the inhabitants of oceanic islands—the affinities & classification of organic beings & their arrangement in groups—the strange fact of a being of one group being adapted to the habits of another group—the facts of morphology or homology—Embryology & Rudimentary organs.— If you think the theory of Natural Selection does not to large extent explain these classes of facts, I have not a word to say.—

Pray forgive me saying a word in favour of my offspring to one, whom I consider an important judge.—

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


Phillips’s letter has not been found. It was evidently a reply to the letter to John Phillips, 11 November [1859]. See also the second letter to T. H. Huxley, 25 November [1859].


Though many facts of palaeontology may be against his theory, CD begs JP to consider whether a theory wholly false could explain several classes of facts – which CD enumerates.

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Phillips, John
Sent from
Source of text
Oxford University Museum (Geological collections)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2556,” accessed on 27 October 2016,