To M. C. Stanley [18 November 1871]1
Down | Beckenham | Kent
Dear Lady Derby
If you had called here after I had read the article you would have found a much perplexed man.2 I cannot disbelieve Mr. Crookes’ statement, nor can I believe in his result. It has removed some of my difficulty that the supposed power is not an anomaly, but is common in a lesser degree to various persons. It is also a consolation to reflect that gravity acts at any distance, in some wholly unknown manner, & so may nerve force.3 Nothing is so difficult to decide as where to draw a just line between scepticism & credulity.
It was a very long time before scientific men would believe in the fall of aerolites; & this was chiefly owing to so much bad evidence, as in the present case, being mixed up with the good.4
All sorts of objects were said to have been seen falling from the sky—
I very much hope that a number of men, such as Professor Stokes will be induced to witness Mr. Crookes’ experiments.5
Pray believe me | your Ladyship’s | truly obliged | Charles Darwin
Much perplexed by W. Crookes’s article. He can neither disbelieve nor believe. Article has removed some of his difficulty in that the supposed power is not an anomaly. Hopes men such as G. G. Stokes will be induced to witness Crookes’s experiments.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9209,” accessed on 5 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-9209