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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. M. Rodwell   1 June 1877

28, Fellows Road, | S. Hampstead, N.W.

June 1. 1877

My dear Sir/

As one of those who have derived immense instruction and satisfaction from the perusal of your various works and not least from that on the Descent of Man, with the conclusions of which, I upon the whole quite agree (—while at the same time I am not presumptuous enough to think my opinion as a mere smatterer in science of the smallest worth—) will you excuse my forwarding to you for your amusement an extract from a volume of Sermons just forwarded to me from Chios and there preached by a certain Archimandrite of the name of “Gregory” who has the repute of being one of the best men of his order in the Greek Islands.1 It will perhaps be a source of satisfaction to you to know that your works are read in those parts & apparently believed in, and that the worthy priest can only meet your arguments by abuse.

He says—the vol. by the way is entitled. Ἑρμηνεια τ. Κυριάκης προσευχῆς — at p. 36 — βλεπει τις νεους μολις ψελλιζοντας ὀλιγα γαλλικα, ἐρημους πασης ἐμβριθους κ ἐπιστημονικης παιδευσεως, συζητο̄ντας παντολμως περι θρησκευτικων κ μεταφυσικων ζητηματων ά̔τινα πανταπασιν ἠγνοο̄νται, κρινοντας κ ἐπικρινοντας μωρως κ ἀμαθως παν ό̔τι ὁ Χριστιανισμος ως θειον κ ἱερον γεραιρει κ αποθαυμαζοντας ἀγυρτικωτερον τον Βολταιρον ή̓́ τον Ρενὰν ή̓́ τον ά̓́θλιον ἐκεινον ἀπόγονον του πιθηκου Δαρβιν κ.τ.λ.2

You will I am sure excuse my troubling you with this extract—as I thought it might provoke a laugh.3

I am | with much respect | yours faithfully | J M Rodwell


Chios is in the Aegean Sea near the coast of Turkey; it is one of the largest Greek islands. The priest was Gregorios, Metropolitan of Chios. An archimandrite is a priest in the Eastern Orthodox church, ranking below a bishop and usually in charge of a large monastery or group of monasteries.
The passage may be translated as: Interpretation of the Lord’s prayer,—at p. 36—one sees young men only just babbling a few French [words], bereft of all dignity and scientific education, shamelessly debating together religious observance and metaphysical enquiry that they know absolutely nothing about, stupidly judging and ignorantly pontificating over everything that Christianity reveres as godly and holy and marvelling at the scoundrel Voltaire or Renan or that wretched monkey’s descendant, Darwin etc.
CD asked George Howard Darwin to translate this extract from the Greek (see letter to G. H. Darwin, [3 June 1877]).


Sends extract abusing CD, from a sermon by a Greek priest.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Medows Rodwell
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 190
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10980,” accessed on 16 May 2021,