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Darwin Correspondence Project

To E. B. Tylor   2 October [1871]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Oct 2d

My dear Sir

Whilst reading your book it occurred to me that your immense collection of facts would be of inestimable value to anyone going to write on the subject, or who was making a special study of it, from having formed some distinct opinion, & therefore wished to learn all the evidence.1 But to the general & intelligent reader, the collection would I think, be unnecessarily large, & tends to make the work heavy. It likewise interferes to a certain extent with the force & clearness of the general argument. Therefore, as far as my judgment goes, it would be advisable to publish a shortened work, with only one or two of the most illustrative & curious cases under each head.— You could always refer to the other work for additional evidence.

I should very much like to have some conversation with you, but I am very doubtful whether it will be possible, as I have been very unwell of late with my head much affected, & conversation or any excitement tries me too much.— If you think it worth while when in London, to send me a line, I will tell you how I am; or I may possibly be in London at that time. Yesterday a gentleman came down unexpectedly to see me, & I could not avoid half-an-hour’s conversation, but it knocked me up to an extreme degree.2

I mention this to show that I speak from experience.—

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch Darwin


CD refers to Tylor’s Primitive culture (Tylor 1871). See letters to E. B. Tylor, 30 April [1871] and n. 1, and 24 September [1871].
There is a note in Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) for 1 October 1871 reading, ‘Mr Aubertin came’. John James Aubertin had met CD at Ilkey Wells hydropathic establishment in 1859 (see letter from J. J. Aubertin, 1 March 1871 and n. 1).


Tylor, Edward Burnett. 1871. Primitive culture: researches into the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, art, and custom. 2 vols. London: John Murray.


CD advises publishing a short version of Primitive culture [1871] for the general reader.

Would like to see EBT, but his health has been bad and conversation is extremely tiring.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Edward Burnett Tylor
Sent from
OC. 2 71
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 50524: 44–6)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7982,” accessed on 23 September 2023,

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