From W. B. Dawkins 14 March 1875
The Owens College, | Manchester,
My dear Sir,
It is a great satisfaction to me to hear that you are pleased with my imperfect, and to a great extent uncorrected and crude book, written under great pressure and with the idea that it was better to put it forward now, rather than wait for the polish and style of the future, which might never come.1 From your letter and its reception in America, and its translation into German,2 I am very happy in inferring that it has not been written in vain.
I have to thank you also for your note about Oxen—3 Before I wrote I had persecuted Freeman, Stubbs and Green, and read Howel Dha, and the Records of the Kings Council, as far as Henry VII, in vain.4 I cannot guess where Youatt5 found it: but it must have been in some Monastic roll or other.
As you are interested in the question of the northern extension of the Iberians or Basques the last discussion before the Anthropological Institute is not without point.6 The philologers in the Sat. Rev. Athenæum etc have been laying down the law that language is a test of race, and have assumed that, as I did not take up its evidence on the Basque question, language had been altogether ignored in the enquiry.7 On the question being put to Prince Lucien Buonaparte, Sayce, Rhys, and Van Eys8 the other evening, “whether they considered that the Ethiopian could change his skin and whole physique as easily as his speech?”, the answer was obviously “no”. So that as the case stands at present three distinguished philologers hold that language is not a test of race, and consequently the argument as to the Basques—the only argument urged against the Basque theory—falls to the ground. It further appeared in the debate that the Basque tongue has not been written more than two or three centuries, and that it is full of latin and gothic words.
Since the debate Rhys and Sayce have been following up the point which I urged “that the Finns are indistinguishable physically from the Celts,” and have met with fragments of Ugric grammar in Welsh and Erse—9
Probably something of great value will be found out in this quarter— — but I must ask pardon for so long a letter | from | Yours very truly | W. Boyd Dawkins
Charles Darwin Esq F.R.S. | Down.
Is glad CD is pleased with his book [Cave hunting (1874)].
Relationship between language and race. The Basques.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9887,” accessed on 24 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-9887