To Frederic William Farrar 5 March 1867
March 5, 1867
My dear Sir
I am very much obliged for your kind present of your lecture.1 We have read it aloud with the greatest interest and I agree to every word. I admire your candour and wonderful freedom from prejudice; for I feel an inward conviction that if I had been a great classical scholar I should never have been able to have judged fairly on the subject.2 As it is, I am one of the root and branch men,3 and would leave classics to be learnt by those alone who have sufficient zeal and the high taste requisite for their appreciation. You have indeed done a great public service in speaking out so boldly. Scientific men might rail for ever, and it would only be said that they railed at what they did not understand. I was at school at Shrewsbury under a great scholar, Dr. Butler;4 I learnt absolutely nothing, except by amusing myself by reading and experimenting in chemistry.5 Dr. Butler somehow found this out and publicly sneered at me before the whole school, for such gross waste of time; I remember he called me a Pococurante, which, not understanding, I thought was a dreadful name. I wish you had shown in your lecture how Science could practically be taught in a great school; I have often heard it objected that this could not be done, and I never knew what to say in answer.
I heartily hope that you may live to see your zeal and labour produce good fruit; and with my best thanks, I remain, my dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin
Much obliged for lecture [On some defects in public school education (1867)]. Would leave classics to those with zeal and taste for appreciation. Learned nothing at school except by reading and experimenting in chemistry.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5432,” accessed on 18 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5432