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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles O’Shaughnessy   10 January 1876


I am happy to inform you that I have completely confuted your work on the “Descent of Man”1   Indeed I have heard a deal about it since it was printed but I am happy for the good of society and for the good of yourself that I will leave no doubt in any mans mind but that your work is the most absurd production I ever had the pain of reading   You do not unfairly deal with a single thing but with God almighty and because you have not the spirit of Him within you you know not His works nor His goodness.

You must have heard that I am the discoverer of the potato blight the foot and mouth disease. Consumption, and etceteras, that I have promulgated that the earth does not go round the Sun, that there is no such law as gravitation nor perturbation nor centrifugal nor centripetal nor evolution (your hobby) nor that man has no Temporal knowledge but by observation and that chiefly came through the brute creation2 so far you and I agree.

I am sure from the style of your work that it was your real conviction, but it is a source of pleasure to me even at the loss of your name as an author to be the medium of converting you from such an erroneous track and opposed to a good God that has done more for you than you would do for an ape, What a change you will feel when a hope of a happy life in the Kingdom of God will be inspired in your mind.

My pamphlet will appear in the early part of april and I will have the pleasure of sending you one at an early opportunity simultaneously with a copy to each of the professors of Science.3

I have the honor to be Sir | yours faithfully | Charles O’Shaughnessy

Kilfinane Jany 10th. 1876

[Enclosure 1]




[2 lines deleted]4 Farm Stock, and Crops, Potato Blight included, published at 21/ for the present edition, but will be advanced to 42/ the next.

I am also the discoverer of the remedies for Lunacy, Epilepsy, Rheumatism, and Consumption, each at 45/; and one on “Married Women,” at 100/.

The prices appear high, but the information is invaluable to a sufferer of any of the above diseases, each of which is cured by simple means, at every one’s disposal, and without medicine of any kind whatever. This is a boon that has never been offered before to the public, and, therefore, my prices are high.

What can be a greater boon to a farmer than to know how to save his cows from foot and mouth disease, lung distemper, and all the diseases following that animal, the pig and her diseases, the sheep and the horses? And should they get it from neglect of the advice given, there is also a remedy for each without medicine, so that every man can be his own doctor and veterinary, and also able to save his most valuable crop—the potato—from blight, for ever more, and through all seasons.

I therefore make no apology for the prices named, but I am glad that I am the medium through which the discoveries are come to my countrymen, and save us from future losses by those diseases that have devastated our country.

I am, Sir, | Faithfully yours, | CHARLES O’SHAUGHNESSY.

[Enclosure 2]

In consequence of my works being discoveries I am obliged to resort to original means for diffusing their practical usefulness, by not permitting the public to see them until they are bought—and once bought they will be valued. But if certain clever professions were allowed into the knowledge of their strain, the author would indeed be made the victim of their dodge.

It is now pretty well known that I am changing the state of recognized science and philosophy, and also astronomy; and it will be evident to any man of education and common sense that I have made enemies of a good many: but I disregard all for the public good.

I hereby guarantee that the work on … that accompanies this, is true in all its bearings.

Given under my hand this … day of … … 18

Kilfinane, Kilmallock, | Ireland.

P.S.—I will reply to any letter or letters regarding questions to be asked by the purchaser on the subject of the work, free of expense.

C. O’S.


O’Shaughnessy’s pamphlet Darwin confounded (C. O’Shaughnessy 1876) purports to be a refutation of Descent, which he refers to as ‘Darwin’s Monkey’; it is written in the form of a series of letters to ‘Rupert’, according to O’Shaughnessy family tradition the name of his cat (D. O’Shaughnessy 2009).
A list of O’Shaughnessy’s published titles, including Farm stock and crops (potato blight included) and Errors of the solar system, was published in C. O’Shaughnessy 1876, p. [1]; the list is reproduced in D. Murphy 2009, p. 58.
CD’s copy of C. O’Shaughnessy 1876, ‘presented by the author’ and postmarked 15 February 1876, is in DAR 132: 4.
The deleted portion of the printed circular read: ‘Your name having been given to me as being influential amongst the higher class of farmers, I shall be happy to treat with you for the agency of my work on the prevention of disease in all kinds of’.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Murphy, Donal. 2009. Darwin’s Limerick nemesis: Charles O’Shaughnessy. North Munster Antiquarian Journal 49: 55–8.

O’Shaughnessy, Charles. 1876. Darwin confounded. Cork: Francis Guy.

O’Shaughnessy, David. 2009. Evolution confounded: Charles O’Shaughnessy’s rebuttal of Darwin. History Ireland 17 (3): 24–7.


He has confuted Descent.

Enclosures announce his cures of potato blight, epilepsy, etc.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles O’Shaughnessy
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 173: 40
Physical description
ALS 4pp, 2 encls

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10351,” accessed on 4 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24