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Darwin Correspondence Project


To Herbert Spencer   2 February [1860]1

Down Bromley Kent

Feb 2d

My dear Sir

I know so few people, that I can really think of only one person, to whom it would be any good to send your gigantic programme.1 This one is

Dr. Drysdale care of Dr. Lane Moor Park Farnham Surrey2

I asked Huxley to put my own name & that of my Brothers on the list for copies.—3

From your letter I infer that you have not received a copy of my Book, which I am very sorry for: I told Mr. Murray to send you one, amongst the first distributed, in November: it was addressed, I am almost sure, to care of Mess Longman.4 Will you enquire, if you think it worth while, & let me know if not there; & then I will write to Murray to see what has become of it—5

I was so much out of health when I was writing my Book, that I grudged every hour of labour, & therefore gave no sort of history of progress of opinion.—

I have now written a Preface for the foreign Editions & for any future English Edit (shd there be one) in which I give a very brief sketch, & have with much pleasure alluded to your excellent essay on Development in your general Essays.6 Can you give me precise date of its publication in Leader, as I arrange my notices chronologically? I am sorry to say that I have never read your Psychology,7 having no strength to spare but I have just looked at the latter part.— May I say in my Preface that you have treated Psychology on the principle “of the necessary acquirement of each mental power & capacity by gradation”? You will find that I use these words in inverted commas towards close of my volume (P. 489 of Reprint) & when I wrote them, I did not think of your work.—8

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin

Kindly answer my two questions soon


CD refers to the subscription list for Spencer’s ten-volume series entitled ‘System of synthetic philosophy’, the first work of which was First principles (Spencer 1860–2). CD’s subscriber’s copy of the book is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Edward Wickstead Lane was the proprietor of Moor Park hydropathic establishment, which CD had visited on several occasions since 1857 (see Correspondence vols. 6 and 7). Dr Drysdale may have been related to Lady Drysdale, Lane’s mother-in-law.
See letter to T. H. Huxley, [26 January 1860].
The publishing firm of Longman, at that time headed by Thomas Longman, published the first volume of Spencer’s Essays (Spencer 1858–63). Spencer’s name appears on the presentation list CD drew up for Origin (see Appendix III).
On 10 February 1860 Spencer wrote to a friend (Duncan ed. 1908, p. 98): I am just reading Darwin’s book (a copy of which has been searching for me since November and has only just come to hand) and want to send him the ‘Population’ [Spencer 1852] to show how thoroughly his argument harmonizes with that I have used at the close of that essay. See also letter from Herbert Spencer, 22 February 1860.
Spencer sent a copy of the first volume of his Essays (Spencer 1858–63) to CD late in 1859 (Correspondence vol. 7, letter to Herbert Spencer, 25 November [1859]). CD’s copy is in the Darwin Library–Down. Spencer’s essay ‘The development hypothesis’, number 2 of ‘The Hawthorne papers’ originally published in The Leader in 1852, was reprinted in Spencer 1858–63, 1: 389–95. In this essay, Spencer advocated the view that species had been modified and that the modification could be attributed to a change of external conditions. CD cited the essay in his historical preface (Origin US ed., pp. viii–ix, and Origin 3d ed., p. xvii; see Appendix IV).
Spencer 1855. CD’s presentation copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL. See Correspondence vol. 6, letter to Herbert Spencer, 11 March [1856].
Spencer apparently approved of CD’s statement: it appears in the historical preface (Origin US ed., p. ix; see Appendix IV).

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Spencer, Herbert
Sent from
Source of text
University of London Library MS.791/47. (Courtesy of the Athenaeum.)
Physical description


Has prepared a historical sketch [of writers on origin of species] for foreign editions of Origin. It includes HS. He was too ill to provide it for the 1st ed.

Sorry Murray has not sent HS his copy of Origin, as he was instructed.

Huxley will put CD and E. A. Darwin down for HS’s gigantic [publishing] programme. Suggests Dr Drysdale be approached about it.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2680,” accessed on 13 February 2016,