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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Beck1   6 October 1864

Copthorne Cottage, near Shrewsbury,

Octr. 6th 1864.

The Divine “Origin of the Species”, Illustrated.

Dear Sir,

You perhaps will be at a loss to know who I am, and be surprised therefore at my familiar manner, &c, of addressing you, but I have the pleasure of claiming some little acquaintance with your family, from the many years invaluable friendship &c, I received from your late highly gifted, excellent, and eminent Father, the late Dr. Darwin,2 whom I most highly respected (—he was also, through life, my own, and Parent’s, and family’s Physician) and I was also a Schoolfellow, when very young, of your elder Brother, Mr. Erasmus Darwin, at a first School, an Unitarian Minister’s,3 in Shrewsbury.

In addition to this, and my great desire, in that most especial and most wonderful high spiritual position, which I believe, I am born to, and placed in on Earth, to impart that wonderfully extensive enlightenment in the glorious truth I have (most mercifully mercifully to myself and country) received— my more immediate object in writing to you is, from having observed, in the Newspapers, that you have I believe, published of late years, a work entitled I think, “Origin of Species.”

I have neither read it, or have seen, or heard of any extracts from it, or any account of it’s nature and character, and, although I greatly regret entertaining any idea of your having or publishing sentiments of a sceptical tendency, I should be afraid (from it’s very title, and the seemingly cautious notice of it by the Newspapers I have seen—in these days of excessive latitudinarianism, scepticism, and unbelief) of reading it, fearing that it may, in some measure, have an anti-Scriptural tendency, and encourage unbelief in the weak in faith in others.

As regards the knowledge of the Allmighty’s most merciful creation of us all, and of the “Worlds”, through His Son, after many of the Angels had fallen, I believe (“See ‘Hebrews 1.2) (St. John 1.2.3 &c.) (Genesis, 1. &c.) the Holy Scriptures, the word of God, through His Son (in Genesis 1.2 &c, and the Gospel according to “St. John 1.2.3 &c.’ especially) gives us most mercifully, in plain literal words, in their plain literal sense and signification, a most clear revealment— an infinitely purely true plain at first sight (as far as in man’s fallen state he is allowed naturally to know) history, narrative of all. It is only through the temptations of Spirits— fallen Angels, &c— upon us, to unbelief (more or less sent upon all who are not already in a lost state, I believe, to prove them, and try their faith and practice) that we could for a moment (if we are in a sane state of mind) hesitate in believing, or for a moment resist the power, influence of the Allmighty’s omnipotent allmighty Word, through His Son, upon us—inwardly confirmed, as it is, and implanted naturally in us all, by God’s allmighty grace, and His Holy Spirit, through His Son,


naturally more or less, born within us all in the whole world, Angels and men, (excepting Satan, in his fallen state. the Saviour’s grace—belief in the Son—taken from him, I believe (“because there is no truth in him”, (St. John. 8.44) “See last page” (Hebrews. 1.2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.”

In addition to the most merciful general knowledge—understanding of Holy Scripture truth, (the measure of the glorious light naturally born in me), I have been for the last now more than twenty five years in most especial infinite mercy to myself, and country, and to the world, most mercifully gradually enlightened more and more (as, through suffering, and repentance for my past life—with fasting, self denial, prayer, and separation from ordinary affairs of the world—I was most mercifully gradually prepared to receive it) in the knowledge and understanding of Holy Scripture,—which most merciful revealment from Heaven to me of the glorious truth, enables me most mercifully to reveal—impart thoroughly, and most minutely and clearly and literally—the full knowledge of the glorious truth of Holy Scripture, and the Holy Gospel. You, I hope, will see that I quote Holy Scripture and the Holy Gospel as my authority—as confirming my most merciful especial enlightenment,—as all thus, through the Holy Spirit I humbly hope—most mercifully revealed to me—I have had (after much prayer, fasting and watchfulness, &c—) to try by that most mercifully to us gloriously safe true test, the word of Holy Scripture and the Holy Gospel.

St. John. 1.1.In the (O) beginning was the (A) Word, and the Word was with (A2) God, and the Word (3A) was God.”

(O). In the “beginning” of the “Worlds”, I believe, after many of the Angels had fallen, the Allmighty making the “Worlds” through His Son I believe, called “The (A) Word” I believe. (A2). “The Word”— the Only Begotten Son, at the Allmighty’s right Hand, mediating for all the Allmighty wills, I believe— fallen Angels &c. (A3) “The Word”— God the Son, in the unity. The Allmighty appointing His Son over all, I believe.

(O) Vizt, the “beginning” of the “Worlds” I believe, after many of the Angels had fallen, I believe. (“See Jude 1.6.”)

It should especially be borne in mind that our Bible relates in the letter (the inspired word of God, through His Son, called thus “the Word”) most especially, almost exclusively to the creation of the “Worlds” (—The Allmighty through His Son, after very many of the Angels had fallen, I believe)   Our Bible almost exclusively relates to fallen man, in our fallen state, and low state of grace, and thus low state of godliness and faith (—part of the Spirit life (not Soul) of fallen Angels, quickened, I believe, in that Adam and Eve ” (Genesis 2.7 called “ The last Adam ”, I believe) to go through


part of the suffering, punishment in the flesh—, and thus they soon fell into disobedience. He is called, I believe, “The last Adam (2a)” “made a quickening spirit.(2a)” (Corinthians, 1.15.45.) (not called “man Adam”, as at first without Soul, I believe, only spiritual—not natural!— afterwards a Soul created in him, I believe, “and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2.7) contrasted with “ The first (a) man Adam (a)”, “made a living soul (a).”— (That “ man ” in Gen. 1.26) I believe.) Thus, (Cor. 1.15.45) “And so it is written, The first (a) man Adam (a) was made a (a) living soul; the last (2a) Adam was made a quickening spirit.(2a)”

46.Howbeit that was not first which is (2a) spiritual, but that which is (a) natural; and afterward that which is (2a) spiritual.”

47.The first man (a) is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the (A) Lord from heaven.”

(a) Vizt, “The first man Adam (a) made a living soul”, (The “man whose name isThe Branch”, I believe (Zechariah, 6.12, &c) once “Melchisedec,” “Joshua, &c.” (Hebrews. 7.1.) (7.3) (Gen. 14.18) I believe) called earthy compared to Divinity, our most blessed Lord and Saviour, called “The second man”, theLord from Heaven” Sent from glory to be born in the flesh on earth to suffer on the cross, for the redemption of the world, for the salvation of all (fallen Angels, &c.) whom the Allmighty, in His infinite mercy, wills His Son to mediate for.

Apocrypha, Esdras, 2.3.5.And gavest a body unto (2a) Adam without soul (2a) which was the workmanship of thine (A) hands, and didst breathe into him the breath of life, and he was made living before Thee.”

6.And Thou leddest him into paradise, which Thy right hand (A) had planted, before ever the earth came forward.”

Genesis, 2.7.And the Lord-God (A) formed man (2a) of the dust (D) of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul

(A). Our most blessed Lord and Saviour, called, I believe, “The Right hand” of God, “The Lord-God”, &c.

(D). Vizt, one part of the Spirit life of fallen Angels, quickened, I believe, into mineral, or into vegetable life,— the “dust of the ground”, being then, I think, is now perhaps, a vegetable matter called (a vegetable life),—as all vegetable life, is now, and has always been, I believe (in addition to a part of our most blessed Lord & Saviours life in it) part of the Spirit life of fallen Angels who are suffering their punishment, I believe, in Soul, with only part of their Spirit life in them, I believe,— the Spirit life, “dashed in pieces like a


potter’s vessel” (Pslm 2.9. … “thou shalt dash them in pieces (G) like a potter’s vessel.”

(G), The Allmighty’s judgment executed through His Son,—parts of the Spirit life of fallen Angels quickened, I believe, into vegetable life (D) the beautiful Flowers, Trees, Fruits, &c. (“See page 7 (Genesis, 1.11”)   As at first there was only fallen Angel’s sin (“spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6.12.) there was then, I believe, no mineral life, except, or only that, in “the dust of the ground”, (if that was mineral life,—but, I think, it was a vegetable life) mineral life being, I believe, particles, minute atoms, as it were, of the Spirit life of the damned, (Devils suffering in Hell) after their dreadful sufferings are over—and their Souls gone for ever—) quickened into mineral life, I believe,—in the stones (R), metals, &c., one part, I believe “in the worm that dieth not, in the fire that is not quenched.” St. Mark, 9.44) (St. Matt. 3.9.) . . . “for I say unto you, that God is able of these (R) stones to raise up (R) children unto Abraham.” (R). Vizt., Those of them who are lost,—particles—minute atoms, as it were—of their Spirit life, quickened, I believe, into mineral life, in the “stones”, &c. when their Souls gone for ever, I believe.

When (“See Genesis. 6.5”) “the wickedness of man was great in the earth”, those in a lost state, were taken, I believe, Soul and Spirit, to their dreadful account, as Devils, in Hell,—their Spirit life, “dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Pslm. 2.9) and parts of it quickened, I believe, into inferior animal life,—”Beasts“ of the Earth, Cattle, Birds, Fishes, Creeping things, &c. to go through part of the suffering (“See page 5, (Ap. Eclesiasticus, 10.11—) (St. Luke. 10.19) In mercy to the damned, that they may suffer less, (they suffering in Soul, I believe, with only a small part of their Spirit life in them, and in a state of comparative apathy, mentally, I believe) and in mercy to fallen Angels, and to classes of the redeemed from Earth, who are suffering when taken hence, for that they had not been allowed to suffer on Earth,—and who are going through their fiery ordeal of temptation upon every sin they have fallen into on Earth,—(the wicked released at moments from the fire, I believe, to tempt them with evil thoughts, and thus to prove them)

Thus, in mercy to them, and to the World, (that the wicked in Hell may have less power to tempt them, and ourselves), the greater part of the Spirit life of the damned quickened


I believe, in animal life, for a time. Thus,— “For when a man (Rx is dead (Rx) he shall inherit creeping (R) things, beasts (R), and worms.” (Apocrypha. Eclesiasticus, 10.11)

(St. Luke. 10.19).— “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on (R) serpents and scorpions (R), and over all the power of the (2R) enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” 20.Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the Spirits are subject to you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

(2R). The wicked called ”the enemy.“

(Rx). Vizt. In one sense, I believe, “dead” to righteousness,—the wicked in Hell, suffering before they perish for ever.

Until their dreadful sufferings are over, and their Souls gone for ever, I believe, parts of their Spirit life quickened in animal life, I believe,— “creeping things, beasts,” and worms,” “serpents and scorpions, &c.” And when their dreadful sufferings are over, and their Souls gone for ever, their Spirit life taken from animals, I believe, and one part of it, is, I believe, called “the worm that dieth not, in the fire that is not quenched.” (St. Mark. 9.44) and the other part of it quickened, I believe, in mineral life, in metals, “stones, &c” (“See page 4 (St. Matt. 3.9.”) The (X) coal that we burn— this (X) having been vegetable life, I believe, but, in it’s decomposition, I think, quickened in mineral life.— The particles, minute atoms, as it were, of the Spirit life in minerals,— in the metals, “stones,” &c, as most mercifully given us for our use, (and at Earthquakes called (when the Allmighty, I believe, takes parts of the Earth away for ever by fire, preparatory to all being taken away by fire, all thus purified by fire, till received again I believe, by the Allmighty, the Spirit that He gave.

However melancholy it is to contemplate the awful truth as to the damned, the lost for ever,— Think of that infinite mercy of the Allmighty (through the Saviour sent to suffer for us) even to them, in so dividing, distributing their sufferings, quickening parts of their Spirit life, I believe, immediately as they are taken hence (called “dead” Rx) (their Spirit life, “dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Pslm 2.9) in the innumerable different classes, species of inferior animal life,—Birds, Beasts, “creeping things’, &c, the Monkey species, &c, &c,—and in that class of human life, I believe, called “Cannibals”, who, I believe, (alike to inferior animal life—) have no Souls,—but are I believe,—only parts of the Spirit life of Devils, (then suffering in Hell before they perish for ever) born again in woman on Earth in the flesh, to divide, and go through part of the suffering.


If fallen man, in despite of the knowledge and love and fear of God, through His Son, naturally born within him (vizt. the measure of grace, and of the Holy Spirit, the measure of faith within him,—which grace most mercifully prevents us, goes before us in thought, enlightens us in truth and righteousness unto salvation and the rewards in Heaven reserved for us, through the Saviour sent to suffer for us, and gives us knowledge that the evil is evil, that we may use that grace and the Holy Spirit within us, to resist the evil and to follow the good) will not choose life everlasting in Heaven, but will seek his own destruction, how most mercifully his sufferings when taken hence (in which he is made of use to deter and warn from evil, multitudes of fallen Angels, and classes of the redeemed from Earth, I believe) are lessened, I believe, by suffering a part in the different animal bodies of inferior animal life. (Alike to the state of “Cannibals” called, I think the same is the case in some, judged, condemned nations, the Chinese people generally.

So also the Allmighty’s infinite mercy (through the Saviour sent to suffer for us) to fallen Angels,—they not the lost, I believe, who are suffering in Soul, I believe, with only a part of their Spirit life in them, (generally till the Great Judgment, I believe,—some thus in “chains under darkness.“ (Jude. 1.6) (St. Peter. 2.2.4) in quickening parts of their Spirit life, I believe, into the innumerable classes and species of vegetable life,—the Spirit life “dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Pslm. 2.9—the Allmighty’s judgment executed through His Son.

Their innumerable varieties and modifications of life, more or less minute atoms, as it were, of life, with also the innumerable varieties and modifications of mineral life, (minute atoms as it were, of the Spirit life of the damned, whose Souls are gone for ever I believe) You, doubtless, as a Naturalist, in your circumnavigation, as it were, of this little globe (only one of some others called “Worlds”, I believe, of which, had I now time and paper space, I have some light as to, I believe) with Captn. then, I think, Fitzroy, in the “Beagle”)4 have had great observation and experience of.

As regards the anomalous apparently circumstance (until its’ elucidation, most mercifully spiritually revealed to me) of the wonderfully extensive inspiration from Heaven of the knowledge of the truth, in art and science (—physics, natural philosophy called), being chiefly revealed to unbelievers called Barbarians, and to some of the most immoral and hardened nations (France for instance) “See, pages 14 & 15”) & (7)

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Bishop Horley5 says I believe, “The origin of the Barbaric and Grecian philosophy, may incontestibly be traced to fragmental records derived from patriarchal ages, which were adopted into various systems—together with all the pollutions and extravagances of each successive founder. This is briefly but comprehensively proved by Clement of Alexandria.” “With regard to the wise men and philosophers of Greece, it is hardly necessary to remark that the greater part of the most ancient of them were either barbarians by birth, or instructed by barbarians, (X) since it has been shewn that Pythagoras was either a Tyrhenian, or a Tyrian; Antisthenes was Phrygean, &c. &c. As for Plato, he does not deny that he brought home from the barbarians the noblest parts of his philosophy, &c. &c.” (X). Thus, I believe, the wonderful extent of knowledge of the truth in art and science, and natural philosophy called, most mercifully revealed from Heaven at first generally, chiefly to barbarians called, to unbelievers called, (and, through them to the faithful and righteous) by a class of the redeemed from Earth, I believe, called, I believe, “The hedge set about the vineyard” (“See pages 14 & 15”)6

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with only a part of their Spirit life in them, I believe,) till the great Judgment (Some thus in “chains under darkness.“ (Jude. 1.6 (St. Peter. 2.2.4.) in quickening parts of their Spirit life I believe (the Spirit “dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel,” (Pslm 2.9) into the innumerable classes, and stages of Vegetable life. Their infinitely numerous varieties and modifications of life, more or less minute atoms, as it were, of life, (with also the infinitely numerous varieties and modifications of Mineral life, minute atoms as it were, of the Spirit life of the damned, whose Souls are gone for ever) you doubtless, as a Naturalist, in your circumnavigation of this little globe (only one of some others called “Worlds”, I believe, of which had I time and space now, I have some light as to, I believe) with Captn. Fitzroy, I think, in the Beagle, have had very great observation and experience of.

Genesis. 1.11.And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose (D) seed is in (2D) itself, upon the earth: and it was so.“

(2D). Vizt. I believe, parts of the Spirit life of fallen Angels quickened into Vegetable life, in mercy to them, that they may suffer less, I believe, in Spirit, in mind,—and most mercifully to give us food, &c, on Earth,—(so also most mercifully to the lost, the damned, when suffering as Devils in Hell, until their most dreadful sufferings are over and their souls gone for ever) parts of their Spirit life, quickened, I believe, into the several innumerable species, classes of inferior animal life, and in mercy to us on Earth to give us food, Beasts of burden, &c. (The Allmighty making all of use.)

As regards parts of the Spirit life of fallen Angels being quickened into Vegetable life, more wonderful still of the Allmighty’s infinite power, and omnipresent allmighty providence in all His works of creation (with mercy to fallen Angels) is, that I believe, that more or less minute parts also of fallen Angels’ Spirit life, are embodied in the Elements. In the case of the late Lord Byron, as also in Shakespeare, and in Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’,7 we have most mercifully to the World, most signal instances of men of naturally I believe, brilliant talents—and of thoroughly unprejudiced high minded independent action (whatever their failings may have been) being inspired from Heaven, I believe, with the glorious truth to an extent beyond that allowed to any other men on Earth, and which extraordinary revealment in Lord Byron’s case (I refer to his ”Manfred“, & ”The prophecy of Dante“)8 he himself, I think, probably wrote, as dictated to him from Heaven, I believe—little really himself, at the


moment, aware of it’s high value,—but using it, in his character of ”Manfred“, I think, as representing a noble minded, high souled man in a comparative monomania called. I have of late years been most mercifully enabled (through spiritual revealings from Heaven) most clearly to shew that Lord Byron’s ”Manfred“ elucidates entirely the literal truth—proves incontestibly, I believe, the Divine inspiration of “The Song of the Three Children” (“The Benedicite Omnia Opera”, in our Prayer Book,9—which our Church does not call canonical, (I am most mercifully now, prepared to shew and prove, and have long since, of late years, most clearly shewn that this, and the whole also of “The Apocrypha” called, is all inspired from Heaven) There are, I believe, multitudes of disembodied parts of the Spirits of fallen Angels, &c. embodied in the Elements, (in the water, in the air, in the wind, in the fire, &c., thus in the heat, the Sun beam, in the cold air, in the Snow, in the Rain, &c.) throughout all space,—to dispense, administer, those elements to us individually (as to all of us who are in a more or less good state of probation, according to our individual respective state at the moment, accordingly as we are most mercifully allowed to suffer a little in that way for (as also to remind us of, and warn us from,) our sins, negligencies, &c. or are most mercifully allowed to be encouraged in righteousness, and good works—and patient suffering for our sins, by being thus especially protected from the cold and heat, &c. in that way. Thus, I believe, the Spirit life (not the Souls of fallen angels “dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Pslm. 2.9) in mercy to them, divided into as many parts (into more or less most minute modifications of the Spirit life) as the Allmighty wills, to go through their punishment,—Some parts embodied in Vegetable life, and some parts embodied in the Elements, I believe (the Soul, with the other part of the Spirit life, in the Angels, I believe, some “in chains under darkness.” (Jude. 1.1.) (Peter 2.2.4) generally till the great Judgment, I believe)

These disembodied Spirits, embodied in the Elements I believe— in their more or less paucity, alienation of mind and sensibility, and in their delusion, comparative unbelief, and presumption, &c. are made of use thus, in their punishment, I believe, as one class of “ministering Spirits.“ (Heb. 1.7.14) Pslm. 104.4) not only with Satan, to punish us, and with other fallen Angels, to tempt us to unbelief, and thus to prove us (Ephesians. 6.12) but also, I believe made of use to dispense, administer their each respective


element to us individually (as to all of us who are in a more or less good state of probation— and are allowed to suffer, or to be encouraged a little in that way. Thus Byron’s‘Manfred’— Manfred— “Mysterious Agency! Ye Spirits of the unbounded Universe Whom I have sought in darkness and in light— Ye, who do compass Earth about, and dwell In subtler essence— Ye, to whom the tops Of mountains inaccessible are haunts, And earth’s and ocean’s caves familiar things” First Spirit. “Mortal! to thy bidding bow’d, From my mansion in the cloud, Which the breath of twilight builds, And the Summer’s sunlight gilds With the azure and vermillion, Which is mix’d for my pavillion; Though thy quest may be forbidden, On a star-beam I have ridden; To thine adjuration bow’d Mortal—! be thy wish avow’d.” Third Spirit. “In the blue depth of the waters, Where the wave hath no strife, Where the wind is a stranger, And the Sea snake hath life Where the mermaid is decking Her green hair with shells, Like the storm on the surface Came the sound of thy spells, O’er my calm Hall of Coral The deep echo roll’d To the Spirit of Ocean Thy wishes unfold!” Fifth Spirit. “I am the Rider of the Wind, The Stirrer of the storm; The hurricane I left behind Is yet with lightening warm; To speed to thee, o’er shore and sea I swept upon the blast: The fleet I met sail’d well, and yet ’Twill (D) sink ere night be past.” (D). Thus, I believe, even this professed fiction of Byron’s, has a direct reference, in the main, to the wonderful truth, I believe, as regards more or less minute parts of the Spirit life of fallen Angels

From ”Fifth Spirits“ Voice. “The Fleet I met sail’d well, and yet ’Twill (D) sink ere night be past.” First Destiny. Second voice without, singing. “The ship sail’d on, the ship sail’d fast, But I left not (D) a sail, and I left not a mast; There is not a plank of the hull or the deck, And there is not a wretch to lament o’er his wreck; Save one, whom I held, as he swam, by the hair, And he was a subject well worthy my care, A traitor on land, and a pirate at sea— But I saved him to wreak further havoc for me!”. (D). Although none allowed actually to know when the Allmighty’s judgments, through His Son, are sent upon us (as to a Shipwreck, or Pestilence for instance), ministering Spirits, I believe, are made apprehensive, after the Allmighty’s fiat (His judgment, through His Son, upon a vessel at Sea for instance) has passed, that such will come to pass,—that they may in some measure, prepare those on board for being taken away to their account (put them in fear, &c) repentance hope are


embodied in the Elements, I believe,—not only, as I have stated, to dispense, administer their respective Element to us individually, but, in their punishment, (they, giving way more or less to Satan’s temptations to unbelief in the Son, &c. tempt one another, I believe, to unbelief and presumption) made of use also, I believe, to tempt us to unbelief, and to idolise them. Seventh Spirit. “The star which rules (E) thy destiny (E) Was ruled (E), ere earth began, by me: It was a World as fresh and fair As e’er revolved round sun in air Its course was free and regular, Space bosom’d not a lovelier star (F). The hour arrived—and it became A wandering mass of shapeless flame, A pathless comet (F), and a curse, The menace of the universe; Still rolling on— — — —” — — — — — — — And thou! beneath it’s influence born— Thou worm! whom I obey and scorn— Forced by a power (which is not thine) And lent thee but to make thee mine) For this brief moment to descend Where these weak Spirits round thee bend And parley with a thing like thee— What wouldst thou, Child of Clay! with me? (E) Even this, I believe, has some reference to, is some elucidation of, the truth. Although really no actual destiny (as the word is generally understood) (except as to the lost, the condemned, many I believe, (in judged nations), in a lost state when born, from the dreadful conduct of Parents and those gone before them, comparatively accountable for little, and called the “children of the wicked one.” (St. Matt. 13.38). France, for instance, I think) (the people generally) Yet, we are all, (except those already in a lost state) more or less, tried in temptation, (to prove our faith and practice thoroughly), by Satan and the fallen Angels, and by a class of the departed, I believe, the redeemed from Earth, called, I believe, “the hedge set about the vineyard.“ St. Mark, 12.1.) and thus I believe (G), kindred Spirits generally, (parts of whose Spirit born (G) in us on earth) in other Worlds of probation, &c. called “ Stars ”, I believe some of them) act upon us on earth, and thus influence us more or less, according to our conduct, for good or for evil, I believe,— they thus, not “rule” (E), but in some measure, influence our “destiny”, as it were, called.

(G). (St. John. 3.13) “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from (G) heaven, even the Son of man which is in Heaven.”.

Manfred “Which had its birthplace in a star condemn’d, The burning wreck of a demolish’d (F) world,”

(F). Comets, I believe, are globes, or segments of globes of fire; “wrecks of demolish’d worlds”—, used by the Allmighty, I believe, to take other Worlds away by fire,—and at Earthquakes called, I believe, vizt. Earthquakes called, are, I believe, when the Allmighty is taking parts of the Earth away for ever by fire, preparatory to all being at last taken away by fire,—the shock concussion, tremor to the remaining earth, from that then taken away forever by fire, makes the earth quake, I believe, and parts of the earth near to that thus taken away, for ever, thrown over, dislocated, I believe, and thus Naturalists find the remains of substances, and are led to think, I suppose that earthquakes are merely dislocations of the earth, convulsions of nature called. From the very first, and every subsequent earthquake called, the Earth becomes less and less, I believe. Thus, I believe, as the Allmighty takes more and more of the earth away for ever by fire, it is added, I believe, to the fire burning in the centre of the globe, (from which the (“See, 11,) ⁠⟨⁠4 pages missing⁠⟩⁠


Thus (“Sorrow is knowledge”—(Byron)10 As evil and unbelief increase more and more in the World, as we approach nearer and nearer the end (“And because (C) iniquity shall abound the love (C) of many shall wax cold,“ St. Matt. 24.12) so from the sufferings, sorrow, when taken hence, of a class of the redeemed (called I believe, “the hedge set about the vineyard”) (who, to enable them to bear their sufferings, are most mercifully I believe granted great increase of grace, which enlightens them in their then state, to a wonderful extent I believe, in the knowledge of all truth, excepting religious truth) knowledge to a wonderful extent of all truth excepting religious truth, most mercifully revealed thus from Heaven, more (C) and more on earth, as we approach nearer and nearer the end, by “the hedge set about the vineyard”—they I believe, in spirit, revealing it especially to the best class of those in a lost state in judged nations I believe from the state of those gone before them—called “the children of the wicked one.” St. Matt. 13.38,) (Romans. 9.21.Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour.“? 22. “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.

(C). “See above”,— The “love” of God, through His Son, the faith, “of many”, much tried (as we approach nearer and nearer the end,) in seeing that as education, and knowledge in art and science, increase more and more in the world, so “iniquity”, (crime, evil, and unbelief) also increase more and more in the world.

But there is this most especially to be borne in mind, that, as we approach nearer and nearer the end, almost all who are not already in a lost state, are, I believe, more or less much tried in temptation by fallen Angels, or departed Spirits (called, “the hedge set about the vineyard,“ I believe) to prove them thoroughly, that any lurking of evil in them may be shewn, that if they fall under the temptation, they may be most mercifully pardoned and granted repentance, and increase of grace again and again, to strengthen them more and more against evil, and increase their faith, that they may not fall as Angels   Consequently, as much increased I believe, spiritual temptations sent upon almost all in the World, more or less, who are not in a lost state, I believe, preparatory to the end, (to prove them thoroughly,) so more and more fall into evil (and thus “iniquity” “abounding”) but, although deadly crime, extreme wickedness increasing in the World, I believe, in a few comparatively, the far greater majority of sinners who fall, as we approach nearer and nearer the end, (thus “iniquity shall abound.”) fall, I believe, most mercifully in comparatively minor light offences. (Romans. 5.20.Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more


abound.”) “See last page” (Romans. 5.20.’) “Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound (O). But where sin abounded, (X) grace did much more X abound.“ X. Vizt. “abounded,” in comparatively minor offences, I believe, through increased temptations upon them

21.That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.“

(O). In man’s fallen state, and more or less low, weak state of grace, and thus of faith, compared to Angels, we all, more or less, (in mercy to us, that we may not fall when Angels) require to be most mercifully much strengthened in grace, and thus in faith, before taken hence unto salvation and the kingdom of Heaven, (through the Saviour’s blessed cross, merits, mediation, and atonement for us,) and therefore, if many of us (from our sins and neglect of duty, cannot, by works of righteousness and faith,) receive that necessary great increase of grace, it is mercy to us, that even “offences” against the “law”, (offences, generally not of a deadly character, I believe) should be committed, that, if, most mercifully, through the Saviours mediation, &c. for us, we are pardoned and granted repentance (the Saviour, most mercifully, confessing much for us from the more or less strong spiritual temptations from Satan and the fallen Angels, and “the hedge set about the vineyard”, upon all who are not in a lost state, under which we fall) we may thus gradually, in our suffering the Lord’s blessed chastening, or His judgment, through His Son, upon us, receive increase and increase of grace and of the Holy Spirit, to make our faith stedfast unto salvation,—and thus that “grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Think of that especial infinite mercy to us in the Lord’s setting a “hedge” about us, vizt. “the hedge set about the vineyard”. They are, I believe, a class of the redeemed from earth, part of their time, I believe, receiving their rewards in Spirit life, in Heaven, and at other times, I believe, suffering gradually for that they were not allowed to suffer on earth, and going through their temptations, I believe, upon every sin they have fallen into on Earth (the wicked released at moments from the fire, to tempt them with evil thoughts I believe) and they giving way at moments, I believe, to evil temptations, at those moments, (they observing us on Earth), tempt us, I believe, vizt. I believe, as to those of us on earth, in the best state of probation generally, when it is seen in Heaven, that we are in danger of neglect of duty, or in


danger of falling into any sin, such, more or less, according to our respective state at the moment) powerful temptation, inspiration, incitement, from “the hedge set about the (X) vineyard”, put upon us at the moment, (in some cases so powerfully acting upon us, as to take from us, most mercifully, (X) ninety nine, out a hundred parts of the sin I think) that the Saviour, may most mercifully confess those temptations for us, in mitigation of our offence, that we may, most mercifully, be pardoned and granted repentance and allowed immediately to suffer on Earth for it, and thus, most mercifully, be gradually strengthened more and more in grace against all evil, and the sin not (X) imputed to us.

Thus Proverbs. 15.2.All the ways of a man (N) are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord (X) weigheth the spirits.”

(X). It is thus shewn what part of the sin we are guilty of, and what part those acting through us.

(N). In our best works, and conduct, we little think, when taken away to our account, and all is revealed in Heaven, how little probably we have acted in them; Angels acting through us. (Romans. 4.7.Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are (X) covered.“ 8.Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not (X) impute sin.”

In a few cases recorded in Holy Scripture the sin wholly, exclusively, the work of Spirits, I believe, (such as “Peter”, denying the Saviour, “David”, sending “Uriah” to be slain,— “Jacob”, deceiving his Father “Isaac”) and probably, I think, in many cases on Earth now (and therefore how especially necessary to think charitably of our fellow creatures (although of paramount importance to a Nation, that justice and judgment, in obedience to God’s Law, and Commandments, through His Son, should be impartially executed, whenever evidence of crime can be had,—as, if the criminal is not in a lost state, that mercy denied him on Earth, will most mercifully be granted him in Heaven,—and if he is already in a lost state, it is most mercy to him to be taken away to his account, as his remaining in evil on Earth, would only bring upon him more and more sufferings in hell before he perishes forever) the act the sin, is entirely I believe, the work, the act, of Satan, or the fallen Angels, or departed Spirits, acting through merely, the inanimate, as it were, at the moment, flesh; bodily organs, of those on Earth,—the one on Earth, locked up as it were, for the moment, paralyzed, I believe, Spirit and Soul, whilst his flesh, (his bodily organs), delivered over for the moment, I believe,


to the evil, as an inanimate instrument, is thus acted upon I believe. The Allmighty’s judgment through His Son, upon “Peter”, I believe, and upon “David”, and upon “Jacob”, delivering their fleshly bodies merely over for the moment, I believe, (as inanimate instruments), to Satan, or the fallen Angels, or the Spiritual Sword (called, (vizt. the damned, suffering in Hell, before they perish for ever) or to “the hedge set about the vineyard”, called, I believe.

Visited upon “Peter”, for his presumption, I believe, selfsufficiency, over zeal in his Divine Master’s service,—that he may henceforth be made an example of faith, humility, obedience and good works, to all future Ministers of the Gospel, &c. (Mark. 14.31But he spake the more vehemently— If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in anywise, … “

Visited upon ”David“, I believe, for his taking ”Bathsheba“, the wife of ”Uriah“, and upon ”Jacob“, as to ”Laban’s“ flock, perhaps. Another most especial infinite mercy to us is this most merciful truth,—vizt. That in all the heaviest sins, and in lying, falsehood, the actual committal at the last moment of our attempting to commit them (whether the person is in a lost state or not) (and, if in a good state of probation, our degree of guiltiness most mercifully depends upon the degree of temptation at the moment, (principally of Spirits departed, fallen Angels, &c. under which we fall) is effected, done by ”the Spiritual Sword“ called (vizt. by Spirits, Devils, suffering in hell before they perish forever, ”dead to righteousness“, and not knowing what they are doing, I believe;—and all lying, by Satan, I believe (“for he is a liar, and the father of it.” St. John. 8.44) The wicked perish, and all have to suffer for the degree in which we attempt to break the holy Commandments, and commit sin and wickedness, the very actual commital of all the heavy sins is most mercifully taken out of our hands, at the last moment of our attempting to commit them,—and actual lying, falsehood, also is spoken, at the last moment of our attempting it, and accordingly we have to suffer for it) by Satan. In the most merciful miraculous power of the Allmighty, we are, at the last moment of our attempting to commit a heavy sin, (or lying, falsehood,) locked up, as it were for the time, paralysed Spirit and Soul, for the moment, I believe, and our fleshly bodies, delivered over for the moment to the “Spiritual Sword”, and to Satan,—they, and Satan, I believe commiting all the heaviest sins, and lying, through our fleshly organs, bodies, I believe. Consciousness most mercifully restored to us the next moment—and thus we believe, or think, that we actually committed the sin,—and, if not in a lost state, ever after going through repentance, for it. (“See 19.”)


John Beck was formerly a Shrewsbury banker (Shrewsbury School register); he appears to have retired from banking between 1829 and 1831 (Shropshire Records and Research Centre, Meole Brace baptism register, 1829 and 1831). The complexity of this letter made certain departures from the usual style of the Correspondence necessary. Beck’s superscript numbers have been printed as subscript, to distinguish them from superscript footnote markers. Words that Beck wrote in red ink are printed in bold-face type; words that he wrote in red ink and underlined are printed in bold-face italics. Numbers on otherwise blank lines are Beck’s own page numbers, included because he refers to them in the text. There are two pages numbered 7, and pages 11 to 14 inclusive are missing.
Robert Waring Darwin (1766–1848).
Erasmus Alvey Darwin and CD attended the Reverend George Case’s day-school as their first school; Case was minister of the Unitarian chapel in the High Street, Shrewsbury (see Autobiography, p. 22). See also Browne 1995, p. 12.
CD accompanied Captain Robert FitzRoy on HMS Beagle as his companion and as the ship’s unofficial naturalist between 1831 and 1836 (Correspondence vol. 1); the voyage to South America and around the world is described in Narrative.
Possibly Absalom Hurley.
This passage, beginning ‘Bishop Horley … ’, and numbered as page 7, is on a separate sheet and appears to have been intended as a footnote to follow page 6. The content of the passage suggests it was intended to be read before the other page numbered 7, beginning, ‘with only a part of their Spirit life in them …’
The references are to George Gordon Byron, William Shakespeare, John Milton, and Milton’s Paradise lost (1667).
Beck refers to Byron’s Manfred, a dramatic poem (1817) and The prophecy of Dante. A poem (1821).
The ‘Song of the three holy children’ was a canticle whose opening words in Latin were: ‘Benedicite, omnia opera’. According to biblical tradition the canticle was sung by the Jewish youths, Ananias, Azarias, and Misael (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), in the furnace into which they were cast by King Nebuchadnezzar. The Benedicite was part of English church liturgy, representing a ‘hymn of the whole universe, of all created beings, rational and irrational’ (Daniel 1901, pp. 145–6).
The quotation is from Byron’s Manfred, 1.1.10.


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

Browne, Janet. 1995. Charles Darwin. Voyaging. Volume I of a biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Daniel, Evan. 1901. The prayer-book. Its history, language, and contents. 20th edition. London: Wells Gardner, Darton & Co.

Shrewsbury School register: Shrewsbury School register. 1734–1908. Edited by J. E. Auden. Oswestry: Woodall, Minshall, Thomas and Co., Caxton Press. 1909.


Has heard about but not read Origin; is concerned that it may contribute to unbelief. Gives many pages of scriptural quotations and exegesis on the creation of earth, species, etc.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Beck
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 160: 103–103/4
Physical description
ALS 15pp inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4628,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12