From Alfred Newton 30 October 1865
Magd: Coll: Cambridge
30 Oct. 1865.
My dear Sir,
I beg leave to assure you that no apology is needed for declining my request that on the present occasion you should give me a testimonial—1 I have to thank you much for the courteous terms in which your refusal is couched— In justice to myself, however, I hope you will allow me to state that I am well aware of the absolute necessity there is for a would-be Professor of Zoology to be acquainted with Comparative Anatomy. It is true that I have hitherto published little or nothing of value bearing upon this subject—but it is not the less true that for more than twenty years Comparative Anatomy has formed an important part of my studies—and that on this basis I have always endeavoured to ground any investigations I have made into Zoology.
I may be entirely wrong in my opinion, but I have long thought that the difficulties which meet Zoological students are the same both in kind and degree whatever be the branch of the science investigated. I have also thought that an attempt to master one branch of the science was a good sort of training for one who aspired to teach the remainder to others. This has been the reason why I have chiefly, though not exclusively, confined my attention to ornithology.
Of histology, I freely confess, I know nothing—perhaps in the present case it is of less importance, because I expect it to form the subject of some of the lectures of the Professor of Human Anatomy & Physiology
You are no doubt right in saying that a recommendation from you might possibly be injurious to me as regards a few members of the University. This idea had occurred to me before—but it also seemed to me that the cause of truth was better than success, and as I had never cared to conceal my opinions on former occasions,2 I did not think it honest to do so now.
With deep respect | believe me to remain | Yours very truly | Alfred Newton
C. Darwin Esqre. F.R.S.
CD need not apologise for not writing a testimonial for him. He knows comparative anatomy, although he has confined his publication to ornithology. Agrees that with a few members of the University a recommendation from CD would be harmful.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4927,” accessed on 23 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4927