RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1905. [Recollection of and words attributed to Darwin, "Painless surgery"]. In Frank Preston Stearns, Cambridge sketches. Boston: E. P. Dutton and Co., p. 309.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited by John van Wyhe 10.2022. RN1

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here. The identity of the distinguished American is not provided nor can the accuracy of the purported Darwin quotation be verified. It is not found elsewhere before this publication.

[page] 309

A distinguished American called upon Charles Darwin, and in the course of conversation asked him what he considered the most important discovery of the nineteenth century. To which Mr. Darwin replied, after a slight hesitation: "Painless surgery." He thought this more beneficial in its effects on human affairs than either the steam-engine or the telegraph. Let it also be noted that he spoke of it as an invention, rather than as a discovery.

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

File last updated 15 October, 2022