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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Alfred Newton   11 February 1870

Magd: Coll:

11 Febr. 1870.

My dear Mr. Darwin,

The gratification of which you are pleased to write is I can assure you mutual—1 I am exceedingly glad to find that my notice of your investigations with regard to Pigeons satisfied you—but I cannot refrain from saying that the admirably lucid manner in which you placed the results before your readers rendered the task an easy one— indeed you will see that nearly every phrase used is your own—

I sometimes think that the labour expended by the Recorders is very inadequately appreciated by the scientific public— therefore your praise is doubly welcome— Almost every author considers that he is unfairly dealt by by his work being subjected to compression, and you are nearly the first who has told me that he was content now with the result as it appears in the ‘Record’.

I shall not soon forget the pleasure I enjoyed during my late visit to you and I am rejoiced to learn that you were none the worse for the excitement which simultaneous occurrence of so many raræ aves was likely to produce—2

Dr. McCann’s pamphlet of which I promised to let you know the particulars is entitled ‘Anti-Darwinism’ & is published by Bryce & Co., Glasgow— It is no real criticism of your theory but a virulent attack on Hooker & Huxley—from a metaphysical point of view which I in my ignorance cannot reach.3

I have been reading the article you told me of in the ‘North British Review’— the geological argument & that based on Sir W. Thomson’s researches are out of my line, but the assertions & reasoning with respect to the Zoological aspect are I think to be fully & entirely answered—4 Pray make my compliments to Mrs. Darwin & your daughters.5

& believe me | yours very truly | Alfred Newton


See letter to Alfred Newton, 9 February [1870]. CD refers to Newton’s notice of Variation, and in particular his work on pigeons, in the Zoological Record for 1868.
Newton, Robert Swinhoe, Albert Günther, and Joseph Dalton Hooker visited Down between 22 and 24 January 1870 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). Rarae aves: rare birds (Latin).
James McCann’s pamphlet (McCann 1869) was the published version of a paper he read at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Exeter in 1869. It included as its final section ‘Professor Huxley’s reply’, which was actually McCann’s criticism of remarks made by Thomas Henry Huxley after the reading of the paper.
Newton refers to [Tait] 1869, and to William Thomson; see also Correspondence vol. 17, letter to J. D. Hooker, 24 July [1869].
Emma, Henrietta Emma, and Elizabeth Darwin.


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

McCann, James. 1869. Anti-Darwinism. With Professor Huxley’s reply. Glasgow: Bryce & Co. Edinburgh: John Menzies and Andrew Elliot. London: Hamilton, Adams & Co.

[Tait, Peter Guthrie.] 1869a. Geological time. North British Review n.s. 11: 406–39.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Is glad to hear that CD is pleased with AN’s notice of his work on pigeons.

He will not soon forget the pleasure of his visit to Down.

Letter details

Letter no.
Alfred Newton
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Magdalene College, Cambridge
Source of text
DAR 172: 48
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7103,” accessed on 8 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18