From Charles Kingsley 31 January 1862
Eversley Rectory, | Winchfield.
My dear Mr. Darwin
I have just returned from Lord Ashburton’s, where the Duke of Argyle, the Bp of Oxford, & I, have naturally talked much about you & your book.1 As for the Bp. you know what he thinks—& more important, you know what he knows.2 The Duke is a very difft. mood; calm, liberal, & ready to hear all reason; though puzzled as every one must be, by a hundred new questions wh. you have opened.3
What struck us on you & your theory, was, the shooting in the park of a pair of “blue Rocks”,4 wh. I was called to decide on. There were several Men there who knew blue Rocks. The Duke said that the specimen was difft from the Blue Rock of the Hebrides— Young Baring5 that it was difft from the B. R. of Gibraltar, & of his Norfolk Rabbit warrens (wh. I don’t believe from the specimens I have seen, to be a B. R. at all, but a stunted Stock dove, wh. breeds in rabbit holes.), & I could hardly swear that this was a B. R. (as the keeper held) till I saw, but very weakly developed, the black bars on the wing coverts.
Do you care engh about the matter to have a specimen of the bird? He comes in 2 & 3s. (from the Isle of Wight, I suppose) to the heart of S. Hants, & feeds on dry berries—
My own view is—& I coolly stated it, fearless of consequences—that the specimen before me was only to be explained on your theory, & that Cushat, Stock doves & Blue Rock, had been once all one species—& I found—to shew how your views are steadily spreading—that of 5 or 6 men, only one regarded such a notion as absurd. If you want a specimen, I can get you one at once.
I want now to bore you on another matter. This great gulf between the quadrumana & man; & the absence of any record of species intermediate between man & the ape. It has come home to me with much force, that while we deny the existence of any such, the legends of most nations are full of them. Fauns, Satyrs, Inui, Elves, Dwarfs—we call them one minute mythological personages, the next conquered inferior races—& ignore the broad fact, that they are always represented as more bestial than man, & of violent sexual passion.
The mythology of every white race, as far as I know, contains these creatures, & I (who believe that every myth has an original nucleus of truth) think the fact very important.
The Inuus of the old Latins is obscure: but his name is from inire—sexual violence
The Faun of the Latins (or Romans, I dont know wh.) has a monkey face, & hairy hind legs & body— the hind feet are traditionally those of a goat, the goat being the type of lust.
The Satyr of the Greeks is completely human, save an ape-face & a short tail—
The Elves Fairies & Dwarfs puzzle me, the 2 first being represented, originally, as of great beauty, the Elves dark, & the Fairies fair; & the Dwarfs as cunning magicians, & workers in metal— They may be really conquered aborigines.
The Hounuman, monkey God of India, & his monkey armies, who take part with the Brahminæ invaders, are now supposed to be a slave negro race, who joined the new Conquerors against their old masters. To me they point to some similar semi-human race. That such creatures shd. have become divine, when they became rare, & a fetish worship paid to them—as happened in all the cases I have mentioned, is consonant with history—& is perhaps the only explanation of fetish-worship. The fear of a terrible, brutal, & mysterious creature, still lingering in the forests.
That they should have died out, by simple natural selection, before the superior white race, you & I can easily understand.
That no sculls, &c. of them have been found, is a question wh. may bother us when the recent deposits of Italy & Greece have been as well searched as those of England. Till then, it concerns no man.
I hope that you will not think me dreaming— To me, it seems strange that we are to deny that any Creatures intermediate between man & the ape ever existed, while our forefathers of every race, assure us that they did— As for having no historic evidence of them—How can you have historic evidence in pre-historic times? Our race was strong enough to kill them out while it was yet savage— We are not niggers, who can coexist till the 19th. century with gorillas a few miles off. I do not say that this notion is true, as a fact: but I do say that it has to be looked to, & weighed patiently quantum valeat.6
At least, believe me | Ever, differing now, & now agreeing— | Yours most faithfully | C Kingsley
CK defended CD’s theory at a shooting party with the Bishop of Oxford, the Duke of Argyll, and Lord Ashburton. The discussion started as a result of shooting some blue rock-pigeons which were different from blue rocks of other localities. CK held that all pigeons were descended from one species.
CK proposed that mythological races, e.g., elves and dwarfs, were intermediate species between man and apes, and have become extinct by natural selection; i.e., by competition with a superior white race of man.
- constant varieties, races
- geographical distribution
- human intervention
- physical ‘external’ characters
- positive attitude/assessment
- reception of Darwinism
- species, speciation
- struggle for existence
- theory (including philosophy)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3426,” accessed on 1 May 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3426