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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Vernon Lushington   [12 March 1869]1

My dear Mr. Lushington.

I have heard from Prof. Huxley who [3 words illeg] desires me to acknowledge for him the receipt of your letter.2 He thinks that although you have at full liberty to hold any opinion in regard to him, you have no right, & now that it is pointed out, I agree with him, to imply in a letter to him firstly imply that he has criticised Comte without having read him, & secondly that he had stated what he had to say with a view to stir up the prejudices of the S. presbs.3 I have said in answer that I presumed you meant by reading Comte, carefully studying & digesting his works.— — I feel sure that you did not wish to offend Huxley, as this wd have prevented your influencing his opinions.—

I was glad to read your letter, as I wished to see a considered statement of his claims. No doubt the law of progress from the theological to the positive point of view, is an important one, if true on which I cannot judge, & I shd think the attempt to reduce the social system to a science state seems important.— On one point I have for many years vehemently [protested] in my own [mind], viz against the schemes of suggesting subject for me to follow, I cannot conceive any scheme better adapted for stopping originality & great discoveries— I remember in consequence doubting, whether Conte however able could have the mind of a discoverer. This will appear as a dreadful piece of heresy in your eyes.—

Pray believe me | Yours very sincerely | C. D.


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to T. H. Huxley, 12 March [1869].
CD refers to Thomas Henry Huxley. See letter from T. H. Huxley, 11 March 1869.
CD refers to Auguste Comte and ‘Scotch Presbyterians’ (see letter from T. H. Huxley, 11 March 1869 and n. 3). For more on the reception of Comte in Britain, see Kent 1978.


Kent, Christopher. 1978. Brains and numbers: elitism, Comtism, and democracy in mid-Victorian England. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.


Huxley has acknowledged receipt of VL’s letter. Both he and CD feel that some of VL’s statements were a little offensive although CD is sure this was not intended. Was glad to read the condensed statement of Comte’s claims in VL’s letter.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Vernon Lushington
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 96: 74
Physical description
AdraftS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6660,” accessed on 21 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17