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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Farr   7 July 1873

Highgate, Middlesex

July 7th 1873

Dear Sir

I have never seen or conversed with you, and never may, our social positions widely differ. and “Who but wishes To invert, the laws of order Sins against the Eternal Cause”.1

I am a convert to your theory of Natural Selection, and the above lines of Pope seem to me perfectly consonant to that theory. Indeed, since perusing your Book2 I have seen more real harmony and Order in the world than I ever discovered before.

Sir, I should much like to have your Photograph in a letter, if it is not taking too great a liberty in asking you.

I am a working man among working men,3 and we frequently have discussions about Natural Selection. Many persons think that your theory of Natural Selection tends to shake the foundations of Faith   My reply to that argument is, that Faith divorced from Reason is nonsense; and Religion divorced from Philosophy is equally so.

Moreover, Faith like Species, is constantly presenting us which new phazes, and is no more permanent than species are permanent.

The Faith of creeds is constantly changing, and has been through all time.

However, I don’t see what this has to do with natural selection at all.

The one is a natural study subject to observation and sense, the other a psycological one.

I am Sir | your obedient servant | John Farr

North Hill, Highgate, N.

Chas Darwin Esqr


The passage is from Alexander Pope’s Essay on man, epistle I, lines 129–30 (Pope 1733–4).
Farr was a poor-law relieving officer.


Pope, Alexander. 1733–4. An essay on man. Address’d to a friend. 4 pts. London: J. Wilford.


Would like a photograph of CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Farr
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 164: 27
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8968,” accessed on 12 July 2020,

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