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Darwin Correspondence Project

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

Down Bromley Kent

Ap. 1st.

Dear Sir

I received this morning your Review & have just read it.2 I thank you most cordially for it. There have been many reviews in England, opposed to me, but yours is the single one which seems to me perfectly fair & just & candid. I literally agree to every word you say. I admit there are no direct proofs of the greater modifications which I believe in.—   I most fully admit that I by no means explain away all the vast difficulties. The only difference between us is that I attach much more weight to the explanation of facts, & somewhat less weight to the difficulties than you do.—   I am conscious that I always jump at any theory which groups & explains facts; & attach too little weight to unexplained difficulties. Your mind is more cautious & I fear that the world would say more philosophical. The first part of your Review gives a really quite admirable condensation of my views.

Your fifth objection (p. 21) shows me that you think my idea of the spreading of the dominant species & their subsequent multiplication not satisfactory.—3

Allow me again to express to you my cordial thanks. I never thought that I shd. read an opposed Review perfectly fair & just! I shall send it to Lyell, Hooker & Huxley to read.

With sincere respect | I remain yours very faithfully | C. Darwin

Would you like to possess a copy of my Journal of Researches during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle    I shd be truly proud to send it you?—   How should I send it.?


The year is given by the reference to Pictet de la Rive 1860.
There is an annotated copy of Pictet de la Rive 1860 in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
es formes zoologiques se sont modifiées de la même manière sur toute la surface de la terre … Comment le choix naturel aurait-il amené ce parallélisme.‘ (Pictet de la Rive 1860, pp. 252–3). [The zoological forms are modified in the same manner all over the face of the earth … How could natural selection bring about these parallelisms?]


Thanks FJP for his review which CD has received and read. There have been many reviews in England opposed to CD but FJP’s is "the single one which seems … perfectly fair & just & candid". The only difference between them is that CD "attaches much more weight to the explanation of facts, & somewhat less weight to the difficulties" than FJP. "I always jump at any theory which groups & explains facts".

Would be proud to send FJP a copy of his Journal of researches.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
François Jules Pictet de la Rive
Sent from
Source of text
Bibliothèque Publique et Universitaire de Genève (MS. fr. 1651, f. 10–11)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2741,” accessed on 27 April 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8