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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. R. R. Stebbing   10 October [1871]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Oct. 10th

My dear Sir

I shd. very much doubt whether it was worth while to try the experiment suggested by you.2 If there had been any difference in the duration of human bones, I think it would have been detected in those found in caverns, tumuli, & even in the embalmed Egyptian mummies. I shd. think the habit of some form of sepulture common to the lowest races, would almost account for the absence of human remains in the river-bed-deposits, subsequently to the Glacial period, & men may not have entered Europe long before that period.— The difficulty is one that does not weigh the least on me, & I presume not on you.—

My dear Sir | yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Prof. Huxley has sent an admirable Review of Mivarts book to the Contemporary for the November number.—3

I am preparing a new Edit. of Origin, in which I shall answer the detailed points in the same book.—4


The year is established by the reference to Thomas Henry Huxley’s review of Mivart 1871a in the Contemporary Review (T. H. Huxley 1871b).
Stebbing’s letter to CD has not been found.
CD refers to Huxley’s review of St George Jackson Mivart’s Genesis of species (T. H. Huxley 1871b, Mivart 1871a). See letter from T. H. Huxley and H. A. Huxley, 20 September 1871.
CD added a substantially new chapter (chapter 7) to Origin 6th ed. to counter criticisms of the theory of natural selection by Mivart and others.


Origin 6th ed.: The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 6th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Doubts whether an experiment to test the durability of human bones would be worth while. Absence of such bones in post-glacial river-bed deposits does not weigh in the least on CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.404)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7999,” accessed on 20 October 2019,

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