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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. W. Reade   13 February 1872

11 St. Mary Abbot’s Terrace | Kensington

Feb 13—72

My dear Sir

The old adage of save me from my friends! applies with double force to disciples. If you saw the note in the Literary Gossip of the Athenæum you must I imagine feel some curiosity not altogether unmingled with dread as to the use I am going to make of your principles—1 I send you a couple of sheets as a sample, and I need not say how highly I should prize an opinion from you upon them. You will see I have worked in one of your phrases about analogy being a deceptive guide. But my work is a complete mosaic. I make no pretensions to originality.— If it is not asking you too much would you margin note these sheets—with your assent or dissent in relation to special passages—  they would then be a pleasant souvenir for me to keep with your letters. In the last chapter of my book I give an outline of the human history from the nebular system to the present time. There is little about Africa—only one point of ethnological importance viz my belief that the Caffres are not radically distinct from negroes—the woolly hair being the only constant character of the West African & that the Caffre has. However I may be wrong, not having seen Caffres.2 When I am through with this book—I suppose in two or three weeks I had better send you my dissenting remarks about music—sex. selection &c.3—as my travels wh. I next go to work on will contain little science4—& whether anything I have collected is first published by you or by me is a matter of indifference— As far as vanity goes, I prefer the former: as you give my statements a wider circulation than I can ever hope to get for them myself.

The Pall Mall Gazette will I believe review your new edition of the Origin & Mivart’s Genesis in the same article.5 I have taken care that the reviewer, whoever he may be, is put up to reading Huxley’s article & also to the fact that Mivart was the Quarterly Reviewer.6 I have seen him only once since my return, & I found him changed— I half believe he is a Jesuit. However Huxley dressed him down nicely. I was glad to hear from D Forbes7 that you are at work.

I may mention with reference to Expression that the native physiognomy in movement is the same as ours, as is evident from this fact—that I cd. read their sentiments in the play of their features & I often observed them very closely studying mine.8

St. John says in his book on Sutherland that dogs are good physiognomists—9 that is curious— It is commonly said that parasites affect children, children breed them as the hair-dressers say. Might that not be reversion?

Hoping you are in good health | I remain my dear Sir | yours truly | Wd Reade

CD annotations

1.2 Athenæum] underl pencil
1.4 you a couple] underl pencil
1.16 as my … science— 1.17] scored pencil
2.1 The Pall … Origin] scored pencil


The notice in the ‘Literary Gossip’ section of the Athenæum, 3 February 1872, p. 147, read, ‘Mr. Winwood Reade is engaged upon a work called “The Dark Continent” in which he makes an attempt to apply Mr. Darwin’s principles in their full extent to history and religion.’ The work referred to is The martyrdom of man (Reade 1872). The publisher’s marked copy of the Athenæum in the library of City University, London, indicates that the author of the notice was the editor of the Athenæum, Norman MacColl.
See also Correspondence vol. 19, letter from W. W. Reade, 1 February 1871 and nn. 2 and 3.
Reade conveyed some of his objections to statements in Descent in his letter of 12 March 1872, but may have discussed more topics when he visited CD on 19 March (see letter from W. W. Reade, 18 March [1872]).
Reade refers to The African sketch-book (Reade 1873).
No review of Origin 6th ed. or St George Jackson Mivart’s On the genesis of species (Mivart 1871a) was published in the Pall Mall Gazette.
Mivart was the anonymous author of a review of Descent in the Quarterly Review ([Mivart] 1871c). Thomas Henry Huxley had written an article, ‘Mr. Darwin’s critics’ (T. H. Huxley 1871a), which criticised Mivart 1871a and [Mivart] 1871c (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from T. H. Huxley and H. A. Huxley, 20 September 1871).
David Forbes.
Reade had received a copy of CD’s Queries about expression (see Correspondence vol. 16, letter to W. W. Reade, 21 May [1868] and n. 3); some of his observations are cited in Expression.
Charles St John devoted a chapter to dogs and their behaviour in his book A tour in Sutherlandshire (St John 1849, 2: 197–215). The passage Reade refers to is in ibid., p. 38.


Athenæum. 1844. A few words by way of comment on Miss Martineau’s statement. No. 896 (28 December): 1198–9.

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

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

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

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.

Reade, William Winwood. 1872. The martyrdom of man. London: Trübner & Co.

Reade, William Winwood. 1873. The African sketch-book. 2 vols. London: Smith, Elder, and Co.


Sending sheets of his forthcoming work on Africa [Martyrdom of man (1872)] with views that differ from CD’s on music and sexual selection.

The Pall Mall Gazette will review the new [6th] edition of the Origin, together with Mivart’s Genesis of species [1871].

Letter details

Letter no.
William Winwood Reade
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 52
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8210,” accessed on 19 April 2021,

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