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Darwin Correspondence Project

From William Whewell   2 January 1860

Trin. Lodge

Jan. 2. 1860

My dear Mr Darwin

I have to thank you for a copy of your book on the ‘Origin of Species’.1 You will easily believe that it has interested me very much, and probably you will not be surprized to be told that I cannot, yet at least, become a convert to your doctrines. But there is so much of thought and of fact in what you have written that it is not to be contradicted without careful selection of the ground and manner of the dissent, which I have not now time for. I must therefore content myself with thanking you for your kindness2

believe me | Yours very truly | W Whewell

C. Darwin Esqe


CD had sent Whewell a copy of the first edition of Origin (see Correspondence vol.8, Appendix III).
CD had known Whewell since he was an undergraduate at Cambridge University. See Autobiography, p. 66, and Correspondence vol. 2.


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Thanks CD for the Origin. WW is not yet a convert but there is so much "of thought and of fact" in what CD has written that "it is not to be contradicted without careful selection of the ground and manner of the dissent".

Letter details

Letter no.
William Whewell
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 98 (ser. 2): 19
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2634,” accessed on 20 September 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8