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Darwin Correspondence Project


To H. N. Ridley   28 November 1878

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway station | Orpington. S. E. R.

Nov 28 78

Dear Sir,

I just skimmed through Dr Pusey’s sermon as published in the Guardian, but it did not seem to me worthy of any attention.1 As I have never answered criticisms excepting those made by scientific men I am not willing that this letter should be published; but I have no objection to your saying that you sent me the three questions, & that I answered that Dr Pusey was mistaken in imagining that I wrote the Origin with any relation whatever to Theology. I should have thought that this would have been evident to anyone who has taken the trouble to read the book, more especially as in the opening lines of the Introduction I specify how the subject arose in my mind.2 This answer disposes of your two other questions; but I may add that many years ago when I was collecting facts for the Origin, my belief in what is called a personal God was as firm as that of Dr Pusey himself, & as to the eternity of matter I have never troubled myself about such insoluble questions.—

Dr Pusey’s attack will be as powerless to retard by a day a belief in evolution as were the virulent attacks made by divines fifty years ago against Geology, & the still older ones of the Catholic church against Galileo, for the public is wise enough always to follow scientific men when they agree on any subject; & now there is almost complete unanimity amongst Biologists about Evolution, tho’ there is still considerable difference as to the means, such as how far natural selection has acted & how far external conditions, or whether there exists some mysterious innate tendency to perfectibility

I remain dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Ridley, H. N.
Sent from
Source of text
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Ridley letters: 42. Draft at DAR 202: 81
Physical description
4pp & AdraftS 2pp


Does not think sermon by E. B. Pusey [see 11763] is worth a reply. HNR may quote CD as saying that Pusey is "mistaken in imagining that I wrote the Origin with any relation whatever to Theology". Pusey’s attack will be powerless to retard belief in evolution.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11766,” accessed on 2 May 2016,