To Neil Arnott 16 February [1860?]1
Down. | Bromley Kent.
My dear Sir.
I am much obliged for your kind note & pamphlet—3 The latter seems to me very interesting, & I agree with all that you say about the course of development of the intellect of man; especially about the dreadful waste of time, on the dead languages, German would be difficult enough if learning a language be good exercise for the mind, & how incomparably more useful.—4 I really have no suggestions or criticisms worth giving it would indeed be presumptuous to think that I had, for I have never thought much about Human Progression or on the all important subject of Education— I can, however, say from my own personal experience with my five Boys5 that it is surprising how very early in life they take vivid interest in & understand something of Natural Philosophy— If you enlarge the pamphlet into a Book, it might be very valuable; especially if it were any how possible to make it, when enlarged interesting to the general reader.
You put the Malthusian great truth of the “Struggle for existence” very forcibly—6
To give one infinitely little criticism; I demur to your saying—p. 17. that animals are governed only by selfish motives.—7 look at the maternal instincts & still more at the social instincts. How unselfish is a Dog! At p. 18, ought not conscience as well as “the far seeing reasoning nature” to be introduced?8 To me it seems as clear that we have a conscience as that the lower animals have a social instinct: indeed I believe they are nearly the same— But these are mere trifles.
With my best thanks & with my hopes that you may produce a larger work on the same subject—
I remain. | My dear Sir. | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin.
Discusses NA’s pamphlet on human progress. Suggests making it a book [A survey of human progress (1861)].
Comments on study of dead languages.
Denies that animals are "governed only by selfish motives".
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2677,” accessed on 17 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2677