To Gaston de Saporta 8 April 1872
Down, | Beckenham, Kent.
April 8th. 1872
I thank you very sincerely and feel much honoured by the trouble which you have taken in giving me your reflections on the origin of Man. It gratifies me extremely that some parts of my work have interested you, and that we agree on the main conclusion of the derivation of man from some lower form.1
I will reflect on what you have said, but I cannot at present give up my belief in the close relationship of Man, to the higher Simiæ. I do not put much trust in any single character, even that of dentition; but I put the greatest faith in resemblances in many parts of the whole organization; for I cannot believe that such resemblances can be due to any cause except close blood-relationship2 That man is closely allied to the higher Simiæ is shewn by the classification of Linnæus who was so good a judge of affinity.3 The man who in England knows most about the structure of the Simiæ, namely Mr Mivart, and who is bitterly opposed to my doctrines about the derivation of the mental powers, yet has publicly admitted that I have not put man too close to the higher Simiæ, as far as bodily structure is concerned.4 I do not think the absence of reversions of structure in man is of much weight; C. Vogt indeed argues that Microcephalous idiots is a case of reversion.5 No one who believes in evolution will doubt that the Phocæ6 are descended from some terrestrial carnivore; yet no one would expect to meet with any such reversion in them. The lesser divergeance of character in the races of man in comparison with the species of Simiadæ, may perhaps be accounted for by man having spread over the world at a much later period than did the Simiadæ.7 I am fully prepared to admit the high antiquity of man; but then we have evidence in the Dryopithecus of the high antiquity of the Anthropomorphous Simiæ.8
I am glad to hear that you are at work on your fossil plants, which of late years have afforded so rich a field for discovery.
With my best thanks for your great kindness and with much respect | I remain Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin
PS Your article on the transformists in the Revue which I read some time ago interested me much.—9
Responds to GdeS’s comments on Descent [see 8246]. Cannot give up belief in close relationship of man to higher Simiae.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8282,” accessed on 30 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8282