From Charles Kingsley 6 June 1867
Eversley Rectory, | Winchfield. June 6/67 My dear Mr. Darwin
I am very anxious to obtain a copy of a pamphlet, wh. I unfortunately lost. It came out shortly after your ‘origin of species’, & was entitled “Reasons for believing in Mr. Darwins theory”—or some such words. It contained a list of phænomenal puzzles 40 or more wh. were explicably by you & not otherwise. If you can recollect it, & tell me where I can get a copy, I shall be very glad—as I very specially want it, in your defence.1
I advise you to look at a wonderful article in the North British about you. It is a pity the man who wrote it had not studied a little zoology & botany, before writing about them.2
The Duke of Argyll’s book is very fair & manly.3 He cannot agree with you, but he writhes about under you as one who feels himself likely to be beat. What he says about the humming birds is his weakest part. He utterly overlooks sexual selection by the females, as one great branch of Natural selection. Why on earth are the males only (to use his teleological view) ornamented, save for the amusement of the females first?4 In his earnestness to press the point—(wh. I think you have really overlooked too much) that beauty in animals & plants is intended for the æsthetic education & pleasure of man, And (as I believe in my old fashioned way), for the pleasure of a God who rejoices in his works as a painter in his picture— In his hurry, I say, to urge this truth, he has overlooked that beauty in any animal must surely first please the animals of that species, & that beauty in males alone, is a broad hint that the females are meant to be charmed thereby—& once allow that any striking new colour wd. attract any single female, you have an opening for endless variation. His argument that the females of each species are as distinct as the males, is naught—for a change in the embryo wh. wd reproduce the peculiar markings of the father, in a male wd be surely likely to produce some change of markings in a female.5
Altogether—even the North British pleases me—for the man is forced to allow some Natural Selection, & forced to allow some great duration of the earth; & so every one who fights you, is forced to allow some of your arguments, as a tub to the whale,6 if only he may be allowed to shun others— While very few have the honesty to confess, that they know nothing about the matter, save what you have put into their heads.
Remark that the argument of the N. British, that geological changes were more violent, & the physical energies of the earth more intense in old times, cuts both ways.7 For if that be true—then changes of circumstance in plants & animals must have been more rapid, & the inclination to vary from outward circumstance greater, & also—if the physical energies of the earth were greater—so must the physical energies of the Animals & plants; & therefore their tendency to sport may have been greater; & not without a gleam of scientific insight have the legends of so many races talked of giants & monsters on the earth of old.
Yours ever faithfully | C Kingsley
Criticises the Duke of Argyll’s book [Reign of law (1867)], particularly on sexual selection.
But CD overlooks God’s intention to instruct man by nature’s beauty.
Criticism of anonymous article in North British Review [by Fleeming Jenkin, 46 (1867): 277–318].
CK supports large sports in response to large environmental changes.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5565,” accessed on 17 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5565