From Emma Darwin to Patrick Matthew 21 November 1
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
Mr Darwin begs me to thank you warmly for your letter which has interested him very much.2 I am sorry to say that he is so unwell as not to be able to write himself.
With regard to Natural Selection he says that he is not staggered by your striking remarks. He is more faithful to your own original child than you are yourself.3 He says you will understand what he means by the following metaphor.
Fragments of rock fallen from a lofty precipice assume an infinitude of shapes—these shapes being due to the nature of the rock, the law of gravity &c— by merely selecting the well-shaped stones & rejecting the ill-shaped an architect (called Nat. Selection could make many & various noble buildings.4
Mr Darwin is much obliged to you for sending him your photograph.5 He wishes he could send you as good a one of himself. The enclosed was a good likeness taken by his eldest son but the impression is faint.6
You express yourself kindly interested about his family. We have 5 sons & 2 daughters, of these 2 only are grown up.7 Mr Darwin was very ill 2 months ago & his recovery is very slow, so that I am afraid it will be long before he can attend to any scientific subject.
Dear Sir | yours truly | E. Darwin
CD is too ill to write.
As for natural selection, he is more faithful to PM’s "own original child" than PM is himself. To illustrate, CD relates the metaphor of an architect selecting well-shaped stones and rejecting ill-shaped ones. [See Variation 2: 431.]
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4344,” accessed on 23 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4344