skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From F. J. Wedgwood to H. E. Darwin   1 April 1871


April 1/1871

Is this the right address

My dear Harrot

I hope you will not get quite sick of the sight of my handwriting, but I want you to act as a funnel to your father for so much of my remarks as you may deem suitable. I never like to say all I have to say to him, for fear of tiring him. I feel I have a number of heterogeneous remarks to make some of them probably not worth making, but I shd like to tumble them all out of my mind. I gave him a little Abstract I had made of what I took for his views on Ethics, & I understood him to say he accepted them entirely so far as all except the self-regarding virtues went.2 Now I so want him to abolish that distinction between self-regarding & others-regarding virtues. (This is not a criticism of anything in his book only of this remark to me.)3 It is like the governess’s division of plants into shrubs, bulbous plants & weeds. (the division is much better but I cant get hold of it exactly.) Of course in the police regulations of a nation we have to recognise some sort of distinction of that kind just as a gardener has to recognize the distinction between flowers & weeds, but there is surely no more science in one classification than in the other. I suppose temperance is a typical example of a self-regarding virtue, & yet if drunkenness did not put one out of the way of doing any good to one’s fellow creatures & into the way of doing them a great deal of harm (I suppose no single fact is a larger source of crime) I cannot see what harm there wd be in it.4 I do so thoroughly feel nothing is self-regarding in that sense. We radiate whatever we are.

I wanted to say something about Mr Morley’s letter, which interested me very much5—& yet I dont think there was much in it for Uncle Ch. The drift of it seemed to me, as far as I cd take it in without remembering the criticism from which the correspondence took its rise, a vindication of the intellectual character of what we mean by the sense of beauty, as an essential part of what he calls the Association philosophy.6 It was much as if in some chemical work you shd find some compound spoken of by the name which you wished to keep for one of it’s constituent elements. I shd hardly think it was worth Uncle Ch’s while to attend to a matter of nomenclature like that [1 page or more missing]

have them here but how silly to take it amiss that a tea-cup wont hold a gallon!

Adieu dear Harrot I am so glad you had that charming evening with the delightful Jane.7 I think Euph quite agrees with you about her.8 Yrs FJW

CD annotations

1.1 I hope … him. 1.3] crossed pencil


Frances Julia Wedgwood probably refers to Trowmer Lodge, Down, the home of Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood (Freeman 1978).
Wedgwood’s abstract has not been found. See also the letter from Hensleigh Wedgwood, [after 9 March 1871].
Wedgwood refers to Descent.
CD had discussed temperance as a self-regarding virtue in his letter to Hensleigh Wedgwood, 9 March 1871. See also Descent 1: 96–7.
Wedgwood probably refers to Associationism.
Jane has not been identified.
Wedgwood probably refers to Katherine Euphemia Wedgwood.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


Writes to HED for fear of tiring CD and to pass on, if she deems suitable, her view that there is no distinction to be made between self-regarding and other-regarding virtues.

Letter details

Letter no.
Frances Julia (Snow) Wedgwood
Henrietta Emma Darwin/Henrietta Emma Litchfield
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 88: 68–70
Physical description
ALS 6pp †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7651,” accessed on 27 June 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19