RECORD: Farrar, Frederic William. 1904. [Recollection of Darwin, 1871]. In Reginald Farrar, The life of Frederic William Farrar. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, pp. 108-9,109-10.

REVISION HISTORY: Text prepared by Kees Rookmaaker and John van Wyhe 11.2010. RN1

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here. This recollection is reprinted in Thomas Glick, What about Darwin? Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.

[pages 108-9]

Acknowledging his gift of the Descent of Man, I said that one insuperable difficulty in the acceptance of his theories was, that from all I had ever read about Anthropology, and from all my studies in Comparative Philology, it seemed to me indisputable that different germs of language and different types of race were traceable from the farthest prehistoric days. The argument has, since then, been indefinitely strengthened by the discovery of the earliest known skulls and remains of primeval races, which show that, even in those immeasurably distant days, there were higher and lower types of humanity. Mr. Darwin admitted the fact, but made this very striking answer: "You are arguing from the last page of a volume of many thousands of pages!"

When Darwin died, I happened to see Professor Huxley and Mr W. Spottiswoode in deep and earnest conversation at the Athenaeum. I asked them why no memorial had been sent to the Dean of Westminster, requesting that one who had been an honor to his age should be buried in the great historic Abbey. "There is nothing which we should like so much," said Professor Huxley. "Nothing would be more fitting; it is the subject on which we were talking. But we did not mean to make the request, for we felt sure it would be refused." I replied, with a smile, "that we clergy were not all so bigoted as he supposed"; and that, though I had no authority to answer for the Dean, I felt no doubt that, if a memorial were sent to him, the permission would be accorded. I said that I would consult the Dean, and let them know at once. Leave was given. I was asked to be one of the pall-bearers, with nine men of much greater distinction—Sir J. Lubbock, Professor Huxley, Mr. J. R. [James Russell] Lowell, Mr. A. R. Wallace, the Dukes of Devonshire and Argyll, the late Earl of Derby, Sir J. Hooker, and Mr. W. Spottiswoode; and on the Sunday evening I preached at the Nave Service the funeral sermon of the great author of the Darwinian hypothesis. Ecclesiasticism was offended; but if what God requires of us is "to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him," I would rather take my chance in the future life with such a man as Charles Darwin, than with many thousands who, saying, "Lord, Lord," and wearing the broadest of phylacteries, show very faint conceptions of honor, kindness, or the love of truth, and are sadly to seek in the most elementary Christian virtues.

[pages 109-10]

In his funeral sermon he [Farrar] thus spoke of Darwin: "This man, on whom for years bigotry and ignorance poured out their scorn, has been called a materialist. I do not see in all his writings one trace of materialism. I read in every line the healthy, noble, well-balanced wonder of a spirit profoundly reverent, kindled into deepest admiration for the works of God. ... Calm in the consciousness of integrity; happy in sweetness of home life; profoundly modest; utterly unselfish; exquisitely genial; manifesting, as his friend has said of him, 'an intense and passionate honesty, by which all his thoughts and actions were irradiated as by a central fire'—Charles Darwin will take his place, side by side, with [John] Ray and Linnaeus; with Newton and Pascal; with [John] Herschel and [Michael] Faraday—among those who have not only served humanity by their genius, but have also brightened its ideal by holy lives. ... And because these false antagonisms have been infinitely dangerous to faith, over Darwin's grave let us once more assure the students of science that, for us, the spirit of mediaeval ecclesiasticism is dead. We desire the light. We believe in the light. We press forward into the light. If need be, let us perish in the light. But we know that in the light we shall never perish. For to us God is light; and Christ is, and will be, to the end, 'the Light of the World.'"

Frederic William Farrar (1831-1903), English prelate.

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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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