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Darwin Correspondence Project

To F. E. Abbot   8 January 1872

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan. 8th /72/


My dear Sir

I have just received nor 104 of the Index, & I must write a few lines to say that I feel grateful for the manner in which you have introduced my name, which is in fact a magnificent eulogium on me.1 There are hosts of people, who if they saw the article, would disagree with you as widely as is possible; for it is the fashion here to say that I am a good observer, but possess an utterly illogical mind.

I greatly admire the force & eloquence of all the latter part of your article. A firm belief in the laws of nature will some day reign supreme.—2

Believe me | My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


CD began to subscribe to the Index, a newspaper edited by Abbot advocating free religion, in 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to F. E. Abbot, 6 June [1871]). CD’s copy of the Index, 23 December 1871, is in DAR 139.12: 2. In an editorial headed ‘The coming empire of science’ (pp. 404–5), Abbot revealed that an quotation approving of his Truths for the times (Abbot [1870]) printed in an earlier issue of the Index (that of 24 June 1871) was in fact from a letter from CD (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to F. E. Abbot, 27 May [1871], for the quotation, which is the last sentence of the letter). He reprinted the quotation, and also the first paragraph of CD’s letter to him of 16 November [1871] (ibid.), which suggested modifications to it. See also ibid., letter to F. E. Abbot, 6 September [1871], and letters from F. E. Abbot, 20 August 1871 and n. 7, and 1 November 1871.
Abbot argued for a religion based on scientific method, and a harmonising of modern science and modern religion.


Abbot, Francis Ellingwood. [1870.] Truths for the times. Mount Pleasant, Ramsgate: Thomas Scott.

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


CD is grateful for the eulogy in Index [no. 104]. Many would disagree. It is the fashion to say he is a good observer with "an utterly illogical mind".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francis Ellingwood Abbot
Sent from
Source of text
Harvard University Archives (Papers of F. E. Abbot, 1841–1904. Named Correspondence, 1857–1903. Folder: Darwin, Charles and W. E. Darwin (son), 1871–1883, box 44. HUG 1101)
Physical description
2pp & Adraft 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8151,” accessed on 13 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20