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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Francis Boott   26 December 1862

Gower St.

Dec. 26. 1862

My Dear Darwin

My faith is an orthodoxy of its own, embracing a much wider revelation than the church admits of, & the reverence I feel for those “who still sway our spirits from their irons”,1 rests with a fond complacency on you as one of Natures true interpreters. I also hold to the privilege of openly professing worship to all who have enlightened & quickened my spirit. I have not been in a church but once for the last 25 years, & I never yet comprehended the possibility of prayer beyond that emotional habit of the mind, when one contemplates the beauty of nature or the glories of genius. I place you in a nitch in my self-consecrated Temple, associated with a few of my Divinities. Your altar close to that of Linneus & Gilbert White,—& the Dear Hookers2—& not far from those imputed sinners Byron, Burns & Charles Lambe3—& those earlier Saints Milton, Shakespeare4 & that still earlier Bard whose spirit was more simply divine than the church tries to make it.—5 I make this confession to justify my last note to you, & you are too liberal to object to the worship of any man.6

But my especial object in writing is to beg you not to take the trouble of sending me any American Newspapers. If Dear Gray asks you to do so, silently appropriate them to the only use I make of them.7 I never look at them, nor do I read a syllable about this horrid war. I cannot see any desirable issue to it or to the fate of the poor blacks. I have had a nephew shot thro’ the abdomen,8 & my last remittance was at the rate of exchange 146129 These evils I consent to, for I have no power to redress them, but I cannot read details of hopeless bloodshed—

Many happy new years to you & Mrs Darwin & your family— | Yrs sincerely | F. Boott

Charles Darwin Esqre | &c &c


The source of the quotation has not been identified.
George Gordon Byron, Robert Burns, and Charles Lamb.
John Milton and William Shakespeare.
The reference has not been traced.
See letter from Francis Boott, 22 December [1862]. CD’s reply has not been found
Asa Gray had apparently enclosed copies of the Boston Advertiser with his letter to CD of 24 November 1862, requesting that he send them on to Boott. CD may have forwarded them with his reply to Boott’s letter of 22 December [1862], which has not been found. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 29 [December 1862].
Boott’s nephew has not been identified.


On his particular spiritual faith; worships great naturalists and authors.

Does not wish to see American newspapers that Asa Gray offers to send, or hear about Civil War.

Letter details

Letter no.
Francis Boott
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Gower St
Source of text
DAR 160: 253
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3876,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10