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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles James Fox Bunbury   30 January 1860


January 30, 1860

My dear Darwin,

I will now begin as I told you I would, to write down my remarks on your book, tho‘ I dare say it may be some time before I finish them.1 I must begin by saying, more explicitly than when I met you the other day, how much I admire your book.2 The astonishing labour & patience with which you must have collected the materials during so many years; the wide range of reading as well as observation; the skill with which the facts are brought to bear on your argument; the extraordinary power of condensation by which so much matter is brought within the compass of a single volume; the candour with which you have tried at least to state the case fairly against yourself; as well as the extreme ingenuity of your theory; all these qualities undoubtedly render your book (Whether its theory be ultimately established or no) one of the most important that have ever appeared on Natural History.

It is moreover no small triumph to your cause, that you have already made converts of the greatest geologist & the greatest botanist of our day.3 Nevertheless you will not be surprised at my saying, that I am not convinced.4 In the first place, as I told you the other day, I cannot feel satisfied till I see your “Pièces Justificatives’—the body of evidence which you are to bring forward in your big book. Not that I have not perfect confidence in your accuracy & honesty, but the same facts

CD annotations

Top of first page: ‘C. J. F. Bunbury’ pencil


CD was in London from 24 to 27 January 1860 (Emma Darwin’s diary).
Bunbury refers to Charles Lyell (his brother-in-law) and Joseph Dalton Hooker.
Bunbury had been among the first to know about CD’s views on the species question and had discussed them with him on several occasions. See particularly Correspondence vol. 3, letter from Charles Lyell, [after 2 August 1845]; and vol. 6, letter to C. J. F. Bunbury, 21 April [1856].


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


On the Origin. Before expressing his disagreements, CJFB praises CD’s labour, patience, fairness, and other qualities which make the work "one of the most important that has ever appeared in Natural History". [See 2690.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles James Fox Bunbury, 8th baronet
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 98 (ser. 2): 26
Physical description
AL inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2669,” accessed on 5 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8