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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Lawson Tait   16 January 1877


Jan 16 1877

My Dear Sir,

If our views on Evolution are sound it seems to me that they must include many explanations of the diseased processes of man. I am writing a book on Diseases of Women, & am trying to borrow light from the “Descent of Man”   I send two or three proof sheets containing a sample & though I know how you hesitate to express an opinion on a matter out of the line of your experience, if you can see your way to criticise (in general terms) my views I should like to know your opinion.1

I have another matter in which I think I have done better than in the present case, hermaphroditism, which I should like to submit to you in a few days.2

“Cross Fertilisation” is splendid. I have just finished a review for Spectator.3

Yours truly, | Lawson Tait


No proof-sheets from Tait’s book Diseases of women (L. Tait 1877) have been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL. Tait claimed that CD’s theory of the descent of humans from other animals had shown that sexual instincts were the most necessary and prevalent of all instincts evolved by the necessities of animal existence (ibid., pp. 48–9).
In L. Tait 1877, p. 200, Tait argued that the incidence of hermaphroditism in humans could be explained by CD’s theory of descent and regarded as reversion.
Tait’s review of Cross and self fertilisation appeared in the Spectator, 10 February 1877, p. 17.


Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Tait, Lawson. 1877. Diseases of women. London: Williams and Norgate.


Is writing Diseases of women [1877]; sends some proof-sheets for criticism.

Letter details

Letter no.
Robert Lawson (Lawson) Tait
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 178: 36
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10795,” accessed on 13 April 2021,