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Darwin Correspondence Project

To F. E. Abbot   8 January 1872

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan. 8th /72/


My dear Sir

I have just received nor 104 of the Index, & I must write a few lines to say that I feel grateful for the manner in which you have introduced my name, which is in fact a magnificent eulogium on me.1 There are hosts of people, who if they saw the article, would disagree with you as widely as is possible; for it is the fashion here to say that I am a good observer, but possess an utterly illogical mind.

I greatly admire the force & eloquence of all the latter part of your article. A firm belief in the laws of nature will some day reign supreme.—2

Believe me | My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


CD began to subscribe to the Index, a newspaper edited by Abbot advocating free religion, in 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to F. E. Abbot, 6 June [1871]). CD’s copy of the Index, 23 December 1871, is in DAR 139.12: 2. In an editorial headed ‘The coming empire of science’ (pp. 404–5), Abbot revealed that an quotation approving of his Truths for the times (Abbot [1870]) printed in an earlier issue of the Index (that of 24 June 1871) was in fact from a letter from CD (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to F. E. Abbot, 27 May [1871], for the quotation, which is the last sentence of the letter). He reprinted the quotation, and also the first paragraph of CD’s letter to him of 16 November [1871] (ibid.), which suggested modifications to it. See also ibid., letter to F. E. Abbot, 6 September [1871], and letters from F. E. Abbot, 20 August 1871 and n. 7, and 1 November 1871.
Abbot argued for a religion based on scientific method, and a harmonising of modern science and modern religion.


CD is grateful for the eulogy in Index [no. 104]. Many would disagree. It is the fashion to say he is a good observer with "an utterly illogical mind".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Ellingwood Abbot
Sent from
Source of text
Harvard University Archives
Physical description
2pp & Adraft 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8151,” accessed on 27 May 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20