RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1875. [Letter to H.K. Rusden.] Darwin on Criminals. Ovens and Murray Advertiser (27 March): p. 5. Transcribed by Christine Chua, edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 12.2019. RN1

NOTE: Introduction by Christine Chua:

Henry Keylock Rusden (1826-1910), was born in Leith Hill Place near Dorking, Surrey. He moved to New South Wales, Australia, with his family in 1834. He published numerous pamphlets under the pseudonym 'Hokor'. He was elected to the Royal Society of Victoria in 1867-68, 1874, 1876, was secretary in 1870-73 and 1877 and vice-president in 1891-1900. He was also secretary to the Yorick Club and the Cremation Society. This is no other known record of his correspondence with Darwin apart from this letter. Walter Bagehot (1826-77), the political theorist. Darwin cited him in Descent, pp. 93, 162 and 239.

[page] 5



To the Editor of The Ovens and Murray Advertiser.

Sir, — As you were so good as to print in extenso the lecture on "Selection — Natural and Artificial," which I delivered last October at Wangaratta, and also since an extract from another lecture of mine on a related subject, "Vivisection," I venture to trespass further on your kindness by asking you to give the like publicity to the following extract from a letter, which I had the honor to receive by last mail from Mr Charles Darwin, with whose theory of Natural Selection I took such a liberty with in the former lecture. I forwarded a copy of it, and of my phamphlet on "The Treatment of Criminals in Relation to Science, or Suggestions for the Prevention of Cruelty to Honest Men and Women," to Mr Darwin in November last, and I think that his remarks upon the subject may interest those who are acquainted with it, through the medium of your columns: —

"Dear Sir. — l am much obliged for your very kind letter, and for the present of your lecture and essay, which I have read with interest.

* * * * *

"I have long thought that habitual criminals ought to be confined for life, but did not lay stress enough until reading your essays on the advantages of thus extinguishing the breed. Lunacy seems to me a much more difficult point from its graduated nature: some time ago my son, Mr G. Darwin, advocated that lunacy should at least be a valid ground for divorce. I may just add that Mr Bagehot has insisted strongly that there is no general tendency to progress in civilisation, which comes to nearly the same thing as intermittence." "With my renewed thanks, I remain, dear Sir, yours faithfully,

"(Signed) Ch. Darwin."

With thanks for your former kindness, and hopes of more,

I remain, dear Sir,

Yours truly,


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