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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Bowman   26 September [1866]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Sep 26

My dear Mr Bowman

I am very much obliged to you for having so kindly sent me your Address;2 the whole has greatly interested me, & there is much in it quite new to me. I have been pleased to see your remarks on life having been continuous on this globe, & I admire your boldness tempered with due caution on the origin of Man.3

You read an excellent lesson to bigots of all kinds & that is a very striking passage in which you call the well-ascertained results of science “vox Dei”.4

With my thanks for the pleasure which you have given me believe me | yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the reference to Bowman 1866 (see n. 2, below).
The reference is to Bowman’s address given at the annual meeting of the British Medical Association at Chester, on 9 August 1866 (Bowman 1866). CD’s copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
For Bowman’s remarks on the continuity of life and the origin of the human species, see Bowman 1866, pp. 191–2. Although he did not mention CD’s work, Bowman argued that evidence strongly suggested a continuity of life from the earliest times, ‘through successive generative links of evolution’, to the present. Referring to humans, Bowman suggested that the possibility that the human species belonged to an ‘ascending … series in the scale of being’ need not detract from human dignity.
CD refers to a section of the address in which Bowman makes a plea for Church leaders to embrace science, concluding that the ‘true results’ of scientific inquiry become ‘vox Dei’ (the voice of God; Bowman 1866, p. 192).


Bowman, William. 1866. The address in surgery. [Read 9 August 1866.] British Medical Journal (1866) pt 2: 186–97.


Thanks WB for his paper ["Address in surgery", Br. Med. J. (1866): 186–97, read at British Medical Association annual meeting, 9 Aug 1866].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bowman, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
Roy Davids Ltd (1996)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5219,” accessed on 28 September 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14