To Baden Powell 18 January 
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Sir
I am much pleased by your approbation of my book, as everyone must admit that you are a master in philosophical logic;1 I am the more pleased at this, as one eminent scientific man writes to me that I have violated the whole spirit of inductive philosophy.2
My health was so poor, whilst I wrote the Book, that I was unwilling to add in the least to my labour; therefore I attempted no history of the subject; nor do I think that I was bound to do so. I just alluded indeed to the Vestiges & I am now heartily sorry I did so.3 No educated person, not even the most ignorant, could suppose that I meant to arrogate to myself the origination of the doctrine that species had not been independently created. The only novelty in my work is the attempt to explain how species become modified, & to a certain extent how the theory of descent explains certain large classes of facts; & in these respects I received no assistance from my predecessors. To the best of my belief I have acknowledged with pleasure all the chief facts & generalisations which I have borrowed. If I have taken anything from you, I assure you it has been unconsciously; but I will reread your Essay.4 Had I alluded to those authors who have maintained, with more or less ability, that species have not been separately created, I should have felt myself bound to have given some account of all; namely, passing over the ancients, Buffon (?) Lamarck (by the way his erroneous views were curiously anticipated by my Grandfather), Geoffry St. Hilaire & especially his son Isidore; Naudin; Keyserling; an American (name this minute forgotten); the Vestiges of Creation; I believe some Germans. Herbert Spencer; & yourself.—5
The task would have been not a little difficult, & belongs rather to the Historian of Science than to me. I ought also to have alluded to chief maintainers of opposite doctrines.— I had intended in my larger book to have attempted some such history; but my own catalogue frightens me. I will, however, consult some scientific friends & be guided by their advice.
Permit me to add that I read your Philosophy of Creation with great interest: it struck me as excellently & vigorously argued & written with a clearness, which I remember excited my warmest admiration.6 I most fully agree that your work must have had a great effect with philosophical minds in removing prejudices on the subject; in a higher degree but in nearly the same manner as the Vestiges has had with a less highly endowed class of readers. I have had to make by letter the same acknowledgement to the Author (as I believe) of the Vestiges.7 By the above remarks I do not by any means intend to say that your work has not entirely converted many readers, & induced them to give up the doctrine of creation; in simple truth I do not at all know how the case stands.— I shd. not have presumed to have made these remarks on your work, had not your letter induced me.
Believe me, with sincere respect, My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Charles Darwin
CD is pleased by BP’s appreciative opinion of Origin. He never intended to claim that he originated the doctrine that species have not been independently created. The only novelty in his work is the attempt to explain how species became modified and how the theory of descent explains large classes of facts. If he has taken anything from BP, he has done so unconsciously. Gives names of those he would have mentioned in any account of authors who maintained that species have not been separately created.
CD greatly admires BP’s Philosophy of creation.
- Letter no.
- Darwin, C. R.
- Powell, Baden
- Sent from
- Source of text
- Linnean Society of London (Quentin Keynes collection)
- Physical description
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2654,” accessed on 29 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2654