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Darwin Correspondence Project

To F. J. Pictet de la Rive   23 February [1860]1

Down Bromley Kent

Feb. 23d

Dear Sir

I must trouble you with a few lines to thank you most truly for your very kind note. What you say about my Book, pleases me extremely, & I am far from surprised that you go with me a very short way. I remember how slowly I changed my own opinion; & even supposing for the moment that my views were in the main right, I do not think anyone could at once undergo so great a revolution in opinion.— I thank you cordially for the notice which you intend to publish, & for so kindly offering to send me a copy.2 This will be invaluable, as showing me what parts you think weakest; & it will largely spread the knowledge of my book.—

Do you ever see the American Phil. Journal? there will appear in the next number an excellent Review by that admirable Botanist Asa Gray.3 He informs me that your illustrious countryman, Agassiz, is very bitter against my Book, as I fully expected would be the case.— Prof. Bronn of Heidelberg although very much of course opposed to my doctrine, with noble liberality of sentiment is going to superintend the work of a Translator into German; so that my Book will be pretty widely known, & consequently what is true will soon be known from what is false in it.—4 You will think me very presumptuous, but as your studies naturally lead you to reflect much on Geological Succession, Geograph. Distribution, Classification, Homology & Embryology, I expect & hope you will be led ultimately to go a little way further with me: as these facts receive some sort of explanation on the theory of descent; whereas they are inexplicable on the theory of creation.

Pray believe me, dear Sir | with sincere respect & cordial thanks for your kindness | Your faithful servant | Charles Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the letter from F. J. Pictet de la Rive, 19 February 1860.
Pictet de la Rive reviewed Origin in Biblioth‘eque Universelle 7 (1860): 233–55. CD’s annotated reprint of the article is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
CD refers to [Gray] 1860a, which was published in the American Journal of Science and Arts.
See letters to H. G. Bronn, 4 February [1860] and 14 February [1860].


Is extremely pleased by what FJP says of his book [Origin]. Recalls how slowly he changed his own opinion; does not think anyone "could at once undergo so great a revolution in opinion". Thanks FJP for his intended notice of the work [Bibl. Univers. Arch. Sci. Phys. & Nat. 7 (1860)].

Recommends an "excellent Review by that admirable Botanist Asa Gray" [Am. J. Sci. 2d ser. 29 (1860): 153–84].

L. Agassiz is very bitter against CD’s book but H. G. Bronn, although very much opposed, "with noble liberality of sentiment" is going to superintend a German translation.

As FJP’s studies lead him to reflect on "Geological Succession, Geographical Distribution, Classification, Homology & Embryology", CD expects that he will go a little further with him because "these facts … are inexplicable on the theory of creation".

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Pictet de la Rive, F. J.
Source of text
Bibliothèque Publique et Universitaire de Genève (MS. fr. 1651, f. 8–9)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2709,” accessed on 17 January 2017,