To F. E. Abbot 16 November 1
Down, | Beckenham, Kent.
My dear Sir
I have read again “Truths for the Times”, & abide by my words as strictly true. If you still think fit to publish them, you had better perhaps omit “I believe” & add “almost” to every word—so that it will run .... ....“& I agree to almost every word.”2 The points on which I doubtfully differ are unimportant but it is better to be accurate. I shd be much obliged if you would somehow preface the words as an extract from a letter not originally intended for publication, or to this effect; as it seems to be somewhat conceited or arrogant otherwise to express my assent.—
I can say with entire truth that I feel honoured by your request that I shd. become a contributor to the Index, & am much obliged for the draft.—3 I fully, also, subscribe to the proposition that it is the duty of everyone to spread what he believes to be the truth; & I honour you for doing so with so much devotion & zeal. But I cannot comply with your request for the following reasons; & excuse me for giving them in some detail, as I shd. be very sorry to appear in your eyes ungracious. My health is very weak: I never pass 24 hours without many hours of discomfort, when I can do nothing whatever. I have thus also lost two whole consecutive months this summer. Owing to this weakness, & my head being often giddy I am unable to master new subjects, requiring much thought, & can deal only with old materials. At no time am I quick thinker or writer; whatever I have done in science has solely been by long pondering, patience & industry.— Now I have never systematically thought much on Religion, in relation to Science, or on morals in relation to society, & without steadily keeping my mind on such subjects for a long period, I am really incapable of writing anything worth sending to the Index. Many years ago I was strongly advised by a friend never to introduce anything about religion—in my works, if I wished to advance science in England; & this led me not to consider the mutual bearings of the two subjects. Had I foreseen, how much more liberal the world would become, I shd. perhaps have acted differently.— As I honestly feel I could not be an efficient contributor to the Index, I am sure that you will excuse my returning your draft.
Forgive this untidy note, for my head has been giddy for much of the day, | With entire respect & good wishes, believe me, My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin
I see I have not thanked you for the extreme kindness of your letter, received this morning.—4
Explains why he must decline to write for the Index: his health is poor and he has never systematically thought much on religion. FEA may print his comments, "with qualifications", if he wishes.