From W. W. Reade 20 September 1871
11 St. Mary Abbot’s Terrace | Kensington
My dear Sir
I am very sorry Mivart wrote the review in the Quarterly.1 Judging from the courteous tone of his book, and from what I know of the man’s own modesty & kindliness I am surprised.2 No doubt he is sincere: no doubt he does believe you are all wrong, and that you have libelled human nature; & the reason I suppose to be this. He has never seen a savage as you have: & he does not seem even to have read books about them. I claim to be one of the first to recognise that you have really opened a new way in metaphysics: & by that way alone I consent to travel through that paradise of quacks & terminologists & purgatory of sensible men. You have shown that we must go & search for the origin of intellectual & moral faculties in the same place where we search for the origin of the lungs, os coccyx &c.
I must not let you suppose I have been converted by Mivart’s book. My ideas such as they are were jotted down & discussed with Bates before I read his work.3 Murphy’s work I must get. I never heard of it till I saw it quoted in Mivart.4 No I am a heretic: for my perverted notions sprang up after a careful reading of the Origin of Species since seeing you. (of course not my first reading: I had it in Africa as my companion).5 However they are crude conjectures; & my knowledge of natural history is insufficient to enable me to form a correct judgment of them for myself. I hope however to do something for the cause in explaining the moral history of early man.
There is a passage in Baker’s Nile Tributaries alluding to the difficulty of stalking the giraffe on account of its long neck.6 If that will be of any use to you I will look it out & send it to you, if you will drop me a line to that effect— But otherwise do not trouble to write. I may ask you for an opinion once more before I publish: but not till I have everything finished— I hope to be out before Christmas; the Personal Narrative will be published about this time next year—7 I am glad to hear you see your way to answering Mivart who is certainly your only strong opponent—and I have no doubt your answers will be effective, as no one can accuse you of underestimating serious objections, or of refusing to reconsider your own opinions. Whatever you write will be sure to add to our knowledge.8
I am very much obliged to you for the information about sexual relations, and about variation. I shall be very careful how I differ from you when it comes to printing.
I remain | Yours very truly | Winwood Reade
Surprised at Mivart’s harsh review [Q. Rev. 131 (1871): 47–90], considering courteous tone of his book. Assures CD he has not been converted by Mivart.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7955,” accessed on 24 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-7955