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Darwin Correspondence Project

From N. D. Doedes   27 March 1873


the 27th. of March 1873.

Dear Sir,

Many thanks for your kind letter to us and for your fine fotograms. You cannot conceive how happy we are with them.1

Now we assume to send our portret to you, which has been made expressly for this occasion. If it had been good at once, we should have sent it much sooner to you; but the first edition was too bad, worse than this.

Here we are. The figure on the left hand is Costerus, the figure on the right hand is Doedes. The letter, you see eternalized before us, is your letter.

Pray, don’t mean, that we are so little happy with your missive, as one of us seems here.

We wish, that the knowledge how they look who love you, may be in some degree agreeable to you.

With renewed thanks | we remain | Dear Sir, | your admirers N. D. Doedes

Dear Sir,

I should like to ask you something. I wish, you may not find it indiscret; if so, I pray you, not to answer me.

I know from the lecture of your books, that you believe in the existence of God. About immortality of man you don’t speak nowhere, if I am right.

Now I should like so very much to know, on what grounds you believe in God.2 If you would indicate with some few words, how you think about his relation towards nature, it should interest me so very much. I suppose, you are Deïst (I mean, believing in a God who has created the universe with unvariable laws, and who now does not mind it anymore); else I cannot conceive how you do combine your faith with your knowledge. Is your chief ground for your belief in God perhaps this, that you think a first cause, a Creator, needed for the universe?

I think, that I must confess to you, if I should like to have any answer on my question, that I on my part can believe no more in the existence of God. This has been the cause, why I have left the study of Theology.

It is not a bad curiosity, that makes me ask my question, but sincere interest for your opinion about it. Neither need you fear a discussion of the question, if you should not like it, from my side.

Whether you do answer or not, | I remain, | Dear Sir, | Your most venerating | N. D. Doedes.


[See frontispiece for photograph]

[Verso of photograph] Photogr. G. L. Mulder, Utrecht


Doedes, the son of a theologian, had recently undergone a crisis of faith; for more on Doedes and his correspondence with CD, see Heide 2006.


Heide, Janneke van der. 2006. Darwin’s young admirers. Endeavour 30: 103–7.


Thanks CD for photograph – sends one in return,

questions CD on his religious views.

Letter details

Letter no.
Nicolaas Dirk Doedes
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 201
Physical description
ALS 4pp photo

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8828,” accessed on 6 October 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21