RECORD: Lushington, T. V. [1866-1883]. Notes on Darwin's Origin, Descent, works by other authors and recollections of Darwin. SHC-7854. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned by the Surrey History Centre, Woking. Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 9-10.2022. RN2

NOTE: See record in the Darwin Online manuscript catalogue, enter its Identifier here.  These manuscripts in the Surrey History Centre, Woking, contain notes on Darwin and related authors by Vernon Lushington, a Darwin family friend for many years.

Introduction by John van Wyhe

Vernon Lushington (1832-1912) was a positivist, Second Secretary to the Admiralty, and connected with the Pre-Raphaelites. 1865 Married Jane Mowatt. 3 daughters. c.1869 Henrietta Emma Darwin first met Richard Buckley Litchfield, her future husband, at the Lushington's London house. The Lushington's and their three daughters remained family friends. 1871 Secretary to the Admiralty. Between 1868 and 1881 the Lushingtons made visits to the Darwins at Down. A recollection by Marianne North of a visit by the Lushingtons to Down is in Symonds 1894 (F2002). In 1882 Mr and Mrs Lushington were on the "Family Friends invited" list for Darwin's funeral. (Adapted from Paul van Helvert & John van Wyhe, Darwin: A Companion, 2021.)

Lushington's reading notes are mostly quotations and paraphrases though these reveal which topics he was most interested in. His recollections of and reflections on Darwin are unfortunately the most confused and illegible parts of these documents. The manuscript folios seem to be out of their original order but are here transcribed in the order in which they are now kept. A brief listing of contents is as follows:

Folios 1-16, 23, 28-29, 42-45, 69, 72 Origin notes

17-21, 26 Descent notes

22, 30-35, 70-71 Comte, System of positive polity (1875)

24-25 Huxley, An introduction to the classification of animals. (1869)

36, 38-41, 46-47 De Quatrefages, The human species (1879)

37 Darwin (1875), p. 132.

48 on Darwin's burial in Westminster Abbey

49 recollection of Darwin in private

64-68 Huxley publications

66-67, 76-77 the Saville Club stationary is watermarked 1883

79 Wallace, A. R. 1878. Tropical nature, and other essays.


Works cited:

Darwin, C. R. 1861. On the origin of species. 3d ed.

Darwin, C. R. 1871. The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex.

Darwin, C. R. 1875. [Letter to Haeckel on the origins of Darwin's theory of evolution]. In O. Schmidt, The doctrine of descent and Darwinism. 2d ed., pp. 132-3.

Huxley, T. H., 1863. On our knowledge of the causes of the phenomena of organic nature. Being six lectures to working men, delivered at the Museum of practical geology.

Huxley, T. H., 1869. An introduction to the classification of animals.

Comte, August, 1875. System of Positive Polity: General view of positivism & introductory principles.

Owen, Richard. 1868. On the anatomy of vertebrates.

A. De Quatrefages, 1879. The human species, The International Scientific Series, vol. 27.

Reproduced with permission from the Surrey History Centre, Woking.


[Scroll up to see introduction]

[Notes on Origin 3d ed.]

X370 Summary as to Geolog

"that the number both of specimens & species preserved in our museums is absol as nothing compd

371 The incalculable number of generations wh. must have passed away even during a single formation


exterminated its parent

208 [Little by little]


systematic affinity.

most obvious & serious objection

304 Hence we shd be unable to recognise the parent form &c

305. So that the number of intermediate & transitional links, believe all living & extinct species, must have been inconceivably great.

X 321. No golden rule to distinguish species & varieties.

324 Chain of linking found

329. Monkeys discovered in Europe &c as far back as the Eocene.

X 332 It seems to me about [illeg]

XX 356. Ext. & living species they all fall into one grand natural system: & this fact is at once explained in the principle of descent

360 We possess only the last Volume "Geological Record, & that in a very broken cond

X 363 Progress to specialis


Origin of S. 18} The origin of most of our domestic animals will probably for ever remain vague.

49. Practically, when a naturalist can unite two forms together by others having intermediate characters, he treats the one as a variety of the other, ranking the most common, but sometimes the one first described as the species, & the other as the variety … In determining whether a form shd. be ranked as a species or a variety, the opinion of naturalists having sound judgement & wide experience seems the only guide to follow.

91. In social animals Natural Selection will adapt the structure of each individual for the benefit of the Community; if each in consequence profits by the selected change.


91. What natural selections cannot do, is to modify the structure of one species, without giving it any advantage, for the good of another species.

102. no organic being fertilises itself for an eternity of generations.

[106] Both in the vegetable & animal kingdoms, an occasional intercross with a distinct individual is a law of nature.

115. I can see no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty & infinite complexity of the coadaptations between all organic beings, one with another & with their physical conditions of life.

120. Varieties when rendered very distinct from each other, take the rank of species.

122. The modified descendants of any one species will succeed by so much the better as they become more diversified in structure, & are thus enabled to encroach on places occupied by other beings.


Origin of S. 133.} Natural Selection acts exclusively by the preservation & accumulation of variations, wh. are beneficial under the organic & inorganic conditions of life to wh. each creature is at each successive period exposed.

133. "Advance in organisat"

"Amongst the vertebrata the degree of intellect & an approach in structure to man clearly come into play.— Von Baers standard seems the most widely applicable & the best, viz, the amount of differentiation of the different parts, in the adult state, & their specialisation for different functions.

141. I believe in the doctrine of descent with modification, notwithstandg that this or that particular change of structure cannot be accounted for, because this doctrine groups together & explains, many general phenomena of nature.


Origin of S. 176.} to natural selection having more or less completely, according to the lapse of time, overmastered the tendency to reversion & to further variability

178 Surprising that characters shd reappear after having been lost for many, perhaps for hundreds of generations.

179 as however we never know the exact character of the common ancestor of a group.

X 185 I venture confidently to look back thousands on thousands of generations, & I see an animal striped like a zebra, but perhaps otherwise very differently constructed, the common parent of our domestic horse, of the ass, the hemionus, quagga, & zebra.

—NB. end of paragraph

185 Our ignorance of the laws of Variations is profound.

186 Organic beings low in the scale more variable than those wh. have their whole organisation more specialised, & are higher in the scale.

188 NB. for a statement of Doctrine


Origin of Species

443. It is the widely ranging, the much diffused & common, that is the dominant species belonging to the larger genera in each class, which vary most. The varieties or incipient species thus produced, ultimately become converted as I believe, into new & distinct species, & these on the principle of inheritance, tend to produce other new & dominant species

(NB Classes, Orders, families, subfamilies, genera, species.

(445 Many naturalists think that something more is meant by the natural System (than mere resemblances & Divisions); they believe that it reveals the plan of the Creator, but unless it be specified whether order in time or space, or both, or what else is meant by the plan of the Creator, it seems to me that nothing is thus added to our knowledge… Propinquity of descent—the only known cause of the similarity of organic beings—is the bond, hidden as it is by various degrees of modification, wh. is partially revealed to us by our classifications.


Origin 446 "It might have been thought (& was in ancient times thought) that those parts of the structure wh determined the habits of life, & the general place of each being in the economy of nature, wd be of very high importance in classification. Nothing can be more false. No one regards the external similarity of a mouse to a shrew, of a dugong to a whale, of a whale to a fish, as of any importance. These resemblances, tho' so intimately connected with the whole life of the being, are ranked as merely "adaptive or analogical characters;" … We must not, in classifying, trust to resemblances in parts of the organisation, however important they may be for the welfare of the being in relation to the outer world…. Almost all the naturalists lay the greatest stress on resemblances in organs of high vital or physiological importance. But their importance for classification, I believe, depends on their greater constancy thro'out large groups of species; & this constancy depends on such organs having generally been subjected to less change in the adaptation of the species to their conditions of life.

(443. It is notorious how members of even the same sub-group have different habits, ([2words illeg] a water-rat)

446 "It may even be given as a general rule, that the less any part of the organisation is concerned with special habits, the more important it becomes for classification.


Origin 'of Species' 448 'Rudimentary or atrophied organs are often of high value in classification." — Example of parts of tripling physiology importance being 'very serviceable for classification — "open passage from nostrils to mouth the only character acc' to Owen, wh absolutely distinguishes fishes & reptiles"

—the nature of the dermal covering, as hair or feathers, in the Vertebrata.

449. A classification founded on any single character, however important that may be, has always failed; for no part of the organisation is universally constant.

450. Practically when naturalists are at work, they do not trouble themselves about the physiological value of the characters wh. they use in defining a group, or in allocating any particular species. If they find a character nearly uniform, & common to a great number of forms, & not common to others, they use it as one of high value; if common to some lesser number, they use it as of subordinate value.

450. We can see why characters derived from the embryo shd be of equal importance with those derived from the adult, for our classifications of course include all ages of each species.


Origin of S. 450} Embryonic characters generally admitted to be the most important of any for purposed of Classification "on the view of Classificn tacitly including the idea of descent."

451 Classifications often plainly influenced by chain of affinities

451. With respect to the comparative value of the various groups of species, such as orders, suborders, families, subfamilies, & genera, they seem to be at least at present arbitrary.

452 All the foregoing rules & aids & difficulties in classification are explained, if I do not greatly deceive myself, on the view that the natural system is founded on descent with modification; that the characters wh. naturalists consider as showing true affinity between any two or more species, are those which have been inherited from a common parent, &, in so far, all true classification is genealogical; that community of descent is the hidden bond which naturalists have been unconsciously seeking, & not some unknown plan of creation, or the enunciation of general propositions, & the mere putting together & separating objects more or less alike.


Origin of S. 452} But I must explain my meaning more fully. I believe that the arrangement of the groups within each class, in due subordination & relation to the other groups, must be strictly genealogical in order to be natural; but that the amount of difference in the several branches or groups, tho' allied in the same degree in blood to their common progenitor, may differ greatly, being due to the different degrees of modification which they have undergone; & this is expressed by the forms being ranked under different genera, families, sections, or orders….

The amount or value of the differences between organic beings all related to each other in the same degree in blood, has come to be widely different. Nevertheless their genealogical arrangement remains strictly true, not only at the present time, but at each successive period of descent.


Origin of S 457 Classif:} It is notoriously not possible to represent in a series, on a flat surface, the affinities which we discover in nature amongst the beings of the same group. Thus, on the view wh. I hold, the natural system is genealogical in its arrangement, like a pedigree; but the degrees of modification wh. the different groups have undergone, have to be expressed by ranking them under different so-called genera, sub-families, families, sections, orders, & classes.— (compares case of Languages)

455 In classing Varieties "whatever part is found to be most constant' is used

456. With species in a state of nature, every naturalist has in fact brought descent into his classification (eg. 2 sexes tho' 30 different larval stages &c)

457 We have no written pedigrees; we have to make out community of descent by resemblances of any kind. Therefore we choose those characters wh. as far as we can judge, are the least likely to have been modified in relation to the conditions of life to wh. each species has been recently exposed.


Origin of S 454 Class:} If it (the character however trifling) prevail thro'out many & different species, esp. those have very diff habits of life, it assures high value; for we can account for its presence in so many forms with such diff parent habits, only by its inheritance from a common parent. (Esp. if we have many such character aggregated

458. As we find organs of high physiological importance — those wh. serve to preserve life under the most diverse condn. of existence, — are generally the most constant, we attach especial value to them; but if these same organs, in another group or section of a group, are found to differ much, we at once value them less in our classificn

458 The resemblance in the shape of the body & in the finlike anterior limbs, between the Dugong, wh is a pachydermatous animal, & the whale, & between both these mammals & fishes is analogical.


Origin of S. 460} How the larger & more dominant groups within each Class tend to go on increasing in size, & consequently supplant many smaller & feebler groups ---. How few the higher groups are in number, & how widely spread thro'out the world!

462. Community of descent explain 'the excessively complex & radiating affinities by wh. all the members of the same family or higher group are connected together. --- so extinction has widened the intervals. "We may thus account even for the distinctness of whole classes from each other,— for instance of Birds from all other vertebrate animals,— by the belief that many ancient forms of life have been utterly lost, thro' wh. the early progenitors of birds were formerly connected with the early types. Of the other vertebrate classes.

"We cd pick out types or forms resembling most of the characters of each group, whether large or small, & thus give a general idea of the differences between them.


Origin of S. 464} Finally, natural selection, wh. results from the struggle for existence, & wh. almost inevitably induces extinction & divergence of character in the many descendants from one dominant parent species, explains that great & universal feature in the affinities of all organic beings, viz … their subordination in group under group.—

We shall never probably disentangle the inextricable web of affinities between the member of any one Class; but when we have a distinct object in view, & do not look to some unknown plan of creation, we may hope to make sure but slow progress


Origin of S. 467} The theory of the natural selection of successive slight modifications,—each modification being profitable in some way to the modified form, but often affecting by correlation of growth other parts of the organisation.

X 466 467} Arg. from morphology

469. An indefinite repetition of the same part or organ is the common characteristic (as Owen has observed) of all low or little modified forms; therefore we may readily believe that the unknown progenitor of the Vertebrata possessed many vertebræ.

481. The embryo is the animal in its less modified state; & in so far it reveals the structure of its progenitor." (or the double principle that each of the many successive modifications by wh. each species has acquired its present structure may have supervened at a not very early period of life,— & tends to reappear at a correspond age in that offspring



Origin Descent of man. 66 after [illeg] [illeg] H. Spencer's theory "Nevertheless I cannot but suspect that there is a still earlier & ruder stage where anything wh. manifests power or movement is thought to be endowed with some form of life, & with mental faculties analogous to our own."

— … 67. The belief in spiritual agencies wd easily pass into the belief in the existence of one or more gods.

68. The same high mental faculties wh. first led man to believe in unseen spiritual agencies, then in fetishism, polytheism, & ultimately in monotheism, wd infallibly lead him, as long as his reasoning powers remained poorly developed, to various strange superstitions & customs … It is well occasionally to reflect on these superstitions, for they show us what an infinite debt of gratitude we owe to the improvement of our reason, to science, & our accumulated knowledge.


Darwin. Origin of man

Relation to animals (NB Chap on Biol Pol Pos I

Fetisheism, Polytheism, Monotheism.

Theory of Conscience I 86, 91, 96, 978

Gradual widening of Sympathy I, 101, 103,

(NB double meaning of Humanity.)

I. 104, Look to future generations, there is no cause to fear that the social instincts will grow weaker, & we may expect that virtuous habits will grow stronger, becoming perhaps fixed by inheritance

I. 133 Population question

137 Causes of man's supremacy

152 Remark on errors in Origin of Species

(Agents of change

(a) natural selection

(b) Inherited habit

(c) Shaping by direct action of surrounding conditions

Natural selection aided by inherited habit

156 Male apes alone possd of formidable canine teeth.

I. 150 antrop. Review May 1864 Wallace

I. 155 & 160 proby even apes were social

I 166 dif, of Conscience

I. 164 Instinct of sympathy obtained by natural selection.

I. 168 "Excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

X I. 173 "With civilised nations, as far as an advanced standard of morality, & an increased number of fairly well-endowed men are concerned, natural selection apparently effects but little… The causes wh lead to the advance of morality, namely, the approbation of our fellowmen, the strengthening of our sympathies by habit, example & imitation, reason experience & even self-interest instruction during youth, & religious feelings.

I 180 Importance of Struggle for existence

I 182. The highest form of Religion. The grand idea of God hating sin & loving righteousness


I. 184 Man has risen, this by slow & interrupted steps, from a lowly condition to the highest standard as yet attained by him in knowledge, morals, & religion.

I. 186 As to principle of classification

I 196. "There can consequently hardly be a doubt that man is an offshoot from the Old World Simian stem; 199 It is some what more probable that our early progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere.

X I. 203 All the members of the vertebrate kingdom are derived from some fish-like animal … [illeg] 206 (a group of animals resembling in many respects the larvæ of our present ascidians).

 I. 206 Both Sexes had beards.─ gen. "Desc of our ancestors. ─ 207 Some extremely remote progenitor of the whole vertebrata kingdom appears to have been hermaphrodite or androgynous.

I 211. During a former prolonged period male mammals aided the females in nursing their offspring (from the breast)

I 229. No doubt all the races of man are descended from a single primitive stock


Darwin I 231. With organic beings, the form of each depends on an infinitude of complex relations, viz, on the variations wh. have arisen, these being due to causes far too intricate to be followed out,—on the nature of the variations wh. have been preserved, & this depends on the surrounding physical conditions, & in a still higher degree on the surrounding organisms with wh. each has come into competition,— & lastly, on inheritance (in itself a fluctuating element) from innumerable progenitors, all of which have had their forms determined thro equally complex relations.

I 234. The spreading of man to regions widely separated by the sea, no doubt, preceded any considerable amount of divergence of character in the several races; for otherwise we should sometimes meet with the same race in distinct continents; & this is never the case.

I 235 Finally, we may conclude that when the principles of evolution are generally accepted, as they surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists & the polygenists will die a silent & unobserved death.


Darwin I. 237-240 Remarks on extinction of Races.

I 241-6 Colour not to be explained by climate, or correlation with constitutional peculiarities, or conditions of life, however prolonged.

Sexual Selection proby the chief cause

I 261 No great inequality in number between the Sexes.

I 266 Many Birds strictly monogamous

269 Polygamous pheasant

Monogamous partridge

270 {Wild duck strictly monogamous

Domestic duck highly polygamous

273 Sexual selection acts in a less rigorous manner than natural selection. The latter produces its effects by the life or death at all ages of the more or less successful individuals.

300 Proportion of male to Female births 105:100

302. male death rate greater

In all old selected countries more women than men

(a) death rate of children (2) Dangers, (3) Environ 3/8 natural selection will always tend to equalise the relative numbers of the two sexes

338 345} Female spiders much larger than male, Insects generally


[Comte 1875, System of Positive Polity]

Pol. Pos III. Vol I 343 "These often culpable abuses of the scientific spirit taking the means for the end

349 The prevail religion controls all future scientific researches, discouraging alike on moral & intellectual grounds, all useless or impossible efforts, & directing all our energies to the continuous service of Humanity.

X 350 We shall never be called upon to found a system of concrete truth, even as an appendage to the abstract system.

352. The immense field of the so called Concrete sciences will finally disappear.

357. The tendency to vary wh. is inherent in the spontaneity of every living organism, has in reality no limits except those imposed by the constant & irresistible pressure of the environment.

367 Theology regarded the world & its comports as if they had been created for man. Positivism looks upon Humanity as destined to ameliorate that small fraction of the Universe wh. admits of our intervention


Origin of S. 484} Natural selection acts solely by the preservation of useful modifications.

489. "The relationship subordinate of group to group in all organism thro'out all time: the nature of the relationship, by wh. all living & extinct beings are united by complex radiating & circuitous lines of affinities into one grand system

499 All geology plainly declared that all species have changed, slowly & in a graduated manner.

499. The more important objections relate to questions on wh. we are confessedly ignorant; nor do we know how ignorant we are.

503. Species are only strongly marked & permanent varieties ─

504. Natural selection act solely by accumulating slight successive favourable variations, it can produce no great or sudden modifications; it can act only by very short & slow steps


Huxley 86. The departure (in Classification Cuvier's Régne Animal) is very nearly in the ratio of the progress of knowledge since Cuvier's time. The limits of the highest group & of the more highly organised classes of the lower divisions with wh. he was so well acquainted, remain as he left them; ─ which the lower groups, of wh. he knew least, & wh. he threw into one great heterogenous assemblage, ─ Radiata, have been altogether remodelled & rearranged.

[Huxley (1869)]


Huxley ut: Darwin "All living animals & plants 'are the lineal descendants of those wh. lived long before the Silirian Epoch."

(Quadrupedal reptile passed into bipedal bird

Hiatus bet" Vertebrata & invertebrate form bridged over.

do. between flowering & flowerless plants

do. between plants & animals)

As to Embryo "The first beginnings of all the higher forms of animal life are similar, & however diverse their adult conditions, they start from a common foundation

Darwin. Or. Sp. "I believe that animals are descended from only 4 or 5 progenitors, & plants from an equal or lesser number.

Owen "I still hold to a tendency to a more generalised or less specialised organisation, as species recede in date of existence from the present time" [Owen (1868): 790.]


Darwin II  384. For my own part I conclude that of all the causes wh have led to the differences in external appearance between the races of man, & to a certain extent between man & the lower animals, sexual selection has been by far the most efficient.

II 385. Grounds of man's descent from animals (a) similarity in embryonic development. (b) innumerable points of structure & constitution, (c) rudiments & abnormal reversions. In manner of change (a) Natural select

(b) Inherited effects of the long combined use or disuse of parts. (c) Principle of correlation. (d) Something to direct & definitive action of the surrounding condns. of life, as food, heat or moisture. (c) Sexual selection

II. 389 Man's true progenitors

II. 391 As to development of moral qualities (Social Instincts acquired by natural selection

NB. the enduring & ever present nature (he omits social influences here. p. 393.)

Intelligence a most important factor of Conscience

II. 394 gen. review of moral progress how gained


II 394 "Ultimately man no longer accepted the praise or blame of his fellows as his chief guide, tho' few escape this influence, but his habitual convictions controlled by reason afford him the safest rule, &c

II 394. Belief in God & immortality of Soul.

II 396. Sexual selection of no avail in the lower divisions: but contra [illeg] with mammals, birds reptiles, fishes insects & even crustaceans.─ male special weapons, & special charms beauty or voice &c

II 398. Sexual selection & natural selection compared.

II 402. He who admits the principle of sexual selection will be led to the remarkable conclusion that the cerebral system not only regulates most of the existing functions of the body, but has indirectly influenced the progressive developments of various bodily structures & of certain natural qualities.

II. 403 Practical conclusions, choice in marriage (NB. Enarre Service)

Necessity of struggle for existence

404 yet other than this yet more important espy. for moral progress. Religion &c


Darwin [Origin 3d ed., p. 373.]

We can understand how it is that all the forms of life, ancient & recent, make together one grand system; for all are connected with by generation. From the continued tendency to divergence, the more ancient a form is, the more generally it differs from those now living. The inhabitants of each successive period in the world's history have beaten their predecessors in the race for life & are in so far, higher in the scale of nature: & this may account for that vague yet ill defined sentiment, felt by many paleontologists, that organisation on the whole has progressed


Darwin Origin [p. 231.]

"The structure of each part of each species, for whatever purpose used, will be the sum of the many inherited changes, through which that species has passed during its successive adaptations to changed habits & conditions of life.

Romanes, "Briefly, in Darwin's view, instincts may arise by lapsing intelligence, by natural selection of accidental & possibly non-intelligent variations of habit or by both principles combined

[Darwin, C. R. 1884. [Extract from a 1881 letter of Darwin and his unpublished notes]. In Romanes, G. J., The Darwinian theory of instinct. The Nineteenth Century no. 91 (September): 434-450.]


Pol. Pos I. 516} It follows from the law with which he started of the limitation of social development to a single species, that each of these points of superiority may have been originally very slightly marked, quite consistently with ultimate supremacy, wh. wd. merely be a question of time. All these attributes being in a high degree capable of extension thro' exercise & heredity, they wd. constantly be on the increase, & thus wd always be consolidating the dominion wh they had established

X I 529 classification; 530 not an expression of some external reality, but a subjective logical instrument intended to assist us in investigating the most difficult viral problems (all this Par).

I 538 While retaining the great principle of the substantial permanence of species, we shall thus discover the natural limits within which they may vary.


Pol. Pos. 493} The nobler animals show distinct tendencies to improve their physical nature. Their insufficiency in this respect is due far less to any special inferiority than to the want od any mutual concert & of suitable instruments. What belongs exclusively to our own species is intellectual & moral progress, this being due solely to the Social state --- Every kind of improvement static or dynamic, that has been realised in the individual, tends to perpetuate itself by generation in the species. Thus by Heredity, modifications that were at first artificial are rendered spontaneous, Altho' the development of this valuable property is necessarily reserved to our own species, it is important to recognise its biological source of which all the higher animals afford illustration


Pol. Pos I. 565. That these higher instincts are shared by many animal species is beyond question. They exist sometimes in a higher degree of intensity than in Man; & independently of this they are not complicated with social institutions & intellectual influences. Here consequently it is that their true character can be rigorously defined &c.

I. 566 of the Affections, attachment Veneration goodness or Humanity

I 570 no absolute distinction between humanity & animality, the radical identity of which under every aspect, subject to differences of degree, we have just verified.

I 573 Abandoning as useless the self-inspecting process, we subordinate all theories of mind to the positive study of the collective evolution of the race, because it is here only that mental phenomena can display their real character


I 579. Contemplation & meditation common to man & animals. fox superior not only in affection & courage, but in sagacity & foresight to the crew of aristocrats who chase him

I 584. Character that wh finally realises the result of desire & calculation

I 589. Gall with all his genius cd. not construct the true physiology of the Brain for want of knowing the laws of Social development wh. alone cd supply the proper starting point & aim.

[See John van Wyhe, 2002. The authority of human nature: the Schädellehre of Franz Joseph Gall. British Journal for the History of Science (March): 17-42.]


Pol. Pos. I 498 Each race of animals has in fact been struggling for exclusive dominion over the earth, as each people has been struggling to subdue all others. But both these contests necessarily cease at the same time

X whole of page 501.


natural selection' — success in the general struggle for life


Quatrefages 80.

"Suppress upon earth the Law of crossing, & the confusion wd. be immense. It is scarcely possible to say where it wd. stop. … It is clear that only a few countries wd. elapse before the animal & vegetable kingdom fall into the most complete disorder

[Quatrefages (1879)]


Darwin to Haeckel} Of all the subordinate points in the theory, the last which I understood was the cause of the tendency in the descendants from a common progenitor to diverge in character

[Darwin (1875), p. 132.]


Quatrefages 36

"Species is a collection of individuals more or less resembling each other, which may be regarded as having descended from a single primitive pair by an interrupted & natural succession of families.

Variety an individual or a number of individuals belonging to the same sexual generation, wh. is distinguished from the other representatives of the same species by one or several exceptional character. [p. 38]


Quatrefages [p. 68]}

Natural formation of hybrids very rare, & rarer among animals than plants "It is unknown, for example, among mammalia/ according to Isidore Geoffroy.

"Not one fertile union has taken place between different families: they are very rare between genera, & even between species they are far from numerous, a fact that more remarkable as animal hybridation is an ancient institution

— Com: bet Sheep & Goat

— only ass & horse invariably fertile not only to male.


Quatrefages [p. 100]

Now, as we have seen, the fertility among races of the same species remains constant, & consequently in the hypothesis of Darwin, as in that of Lamarck &c the fertile crossings wd. in every sense of the word constantly confuse the original & the derived species which was in process of formation. The


same cause having produced the same effects since the commencement of the world, the organic world wd. present the greatest confusion instead of it's well-known order


Origin 481} The Embryo is the animal in its less modified state; & in so far it reveals the structure of its progenitor


O. of S. 524} We may look with some confidence to a secure future of equally inappreciable length. And as natural selection works solely by & for the good of each being, all corporeal & mental endowments with tend to progress towards perfection.


O. of S. 445} many naturalists believe that it was the natural system reveal the plan of the Creator, but unless is be specified whether order in time or space, or both, or what else is meant by the plan of the Creator, it seems to me that nothing is thus added to our knowledge


O. of S. 511.} The relation of organism to organism is the most important of all relations


Huxley} I adopt the theory of Darwin under the reserve that proof shd. be given that physiological species can be produced by selective crossing."

[Quatrefages (1879), p. 99.]


Quatrefages [p. 93]

No one had insisted, as Darwin has done, upon the enormous disproportion which exists between the number of births & the number of living individuals, no one had investigated, as he has, the general causes of death or of survival which produce the general result


His burial in 'West' Abbey was a signal public event. It was of course a sign of the time, a [illeg], mark of opinion— nature of a compromise. On the one hand his family who well knew his opinions, were content to accepted a the Xtian ceremony, they probably, but here I am only surmising they felt that however imperfect divergent the ordinary Xtian ceremony might be was the most sympathetic to their feeling the most available & they accepted it just, as many in this room, myself included, have been married with Xtian ceremonies — & they felt were gratefully accepted also that burial in W. Abbey was the most solemn as a public tribute to the service of their beloved Departed —

— On the other hand the guardians of the Abbey acted gave effect spontaneously in to public opinion; somewhat of course at the expense of their fidelity to the doctrines of the Church & the doctrines under Church. & their own fidelity — I do not blame them. I praise them rather.

Another ground of embarrassment I knew & loved the man & have very lasting memories connected with him. It was my great good fortune since nearly 20 years ago to be admitted into his family upon terms of familiar friendship; & I had the opportunity from time to time of seeing how he was beloved & loved in his family home circle, & with what good cause. The beauty & charm of his character no less than its strength is universally acknowledged: Then the greatest a deep pleasure in referring to it here: It is to me [uncanny] that I shd do so to call in question the proved earnestly [illeg] inhuman class of mod. soc, to be independent of Relig control, I have to say that Darwin was a most & so gracious orderly soul, & that was a precious brotherly soul. & one of the most remarkable points in his character was his charming modesty ─ ─ his affectionate disposition ─ his tenderness He was tender to animals almost to excess I know no member of the D. Family that I I know no Darwin, that I know, that wd not rather [illeg] than that the Cabron shd. beat his h [illeg]

Free inquiry 


Carlyle, a moralist, who openly & blatantly denied despised social & moral science, a countenancer of Science

Darwin, a man of Science, a Biologist who revered his Science & claimed to carry on to the uttermost. ─ Exemplary & beautiful character he made no effort to commit his science with any of those others

─ Embarrassment, I am no Biologist

with the great [words illeg].Posit [illeg] Layman Combe's Authority} & I knew & loved the man.

I wish to speak of D as the most eminent scientific spec, I

─ For him

D. must reckon with struggle for existence P. & P with D

I wish that I were but I am no Biologist. If ∴ the question

My Remembrance, not so much to some use from the change of prescription, as to lead you to the

as a multiplies say

[illeg] purely one of Biology is a qn. of Authorities my place I heartily agree wd. be simply to sit quiet as a humble [illeg] & listen study listen & learn

The master The Master, to hear him set forth from him or fr. other Biologists  

his doctrine: or to hear him & other Masters of Biology discuss the question of affect: to their Science & if they can decide.

But the qn. for tonight, is the due limits of Biolog, inquiring & Biolog speculn:─ & this is not a question for Biology to decide. It is one on wh. Bioy want to be fully completely read, but not one for Biology to decide


D's general Intellectual Position

His controversy with Religion

(a) Inconsistent with Xtian Religion

─ Adam, Fall of Man.

Incarnation, Redemption

He never said this, he carefully kept it in background, wishing to get [audience] for his book, ─ also I do believe wishing no to shake religious faith more than he cd. help─ He avoided all controversy, bore patiently.


(b) Unlike Carlyle In com Not even a Deist─. Italian Motto "Man made in Eden ─ What the Lord

Letter ─ interestg & pathetic

General Result

No religion─

no systematic general belief,

no worship, no pious customs & ordinances, no prayer

no recognition of Spir. authy

? Whatever impulses, affections, doctrines of morality, & conduct, restraints, good habits these were unsanctified by any ackd. Relig

Assuredly he had these but miscellaneous

hold upmost [illeg] caring─ implicitly & assuredly from a feeling of their

to his [illeg] Humanity

sweet nature, happy family, are means & an intellect pursuit


been for an Universal Religion Catholicism, tho' it has done so much, has failed in accomplishing its glorious aspiration; Position takes up the conscious, building on the achievements of all its predecessors, but extending the sure & universal method of Science all the phenomena, including Religion itself.

In conclusion let me remind you of the energetic words of St. Paul' bringing every thought into captivity to the mind of Xt. Jesus. "His work His was an absolute creed, & his work his phrase from the Industrious life he saw around him. We, who have a relative creed, read wouldn't be quite


so absolute, & we may borrow our phrases from the Industrial Life, wh. is ours, & will be the [illeg] life of the Future. Enough if we labour faithfully in though, word & deed for Humanity.


It is, we say for Religion to decide the Religion of Humanity. And it is only because I am compelled are enabled [illeg] are constrained we in this place to view the quest from a higher point & [illeg] of view his 'gen' beliefs cd. take, that I venture to criticise him. I like my points somewhat.

The Common juryman man has often to sit in judgement upon the opinions of the most accomplished experts simply Why because he the C. J is bound to fulfil his duty from the social point of view, wh/ is higher & more general than the intellectual standpoint of the Scientific expert.─ Often he is called upon to set aside the Experts opin[ion], upon the ground that it is irrelevant to the issue wh he has to determine

─ how in this matter of the due limits of Biolog. Speculn we are all com juryman all interested


But happily in this place we are not not unassisted:─ we have the counsels of our Master, who had profoundly studied Biology the whole range of abstract Science, & He had [illeg] studied Biology & Human Life & Human History.─

& he has es

on this very quest, the limits of Scientific Speculn

Like England with Irish when Queen [illeg] not new the Relig. content of Science is of the [illeg] enemies of the Rel. of [Unity]

Between the juryman & me I admit there is this difference, that I appear to come forward here in some sort as a Teacher. I do so however, as a mere Stop gap, a Pos. layman directing all ultimately & desiring to offer you only such brotherly help as I can.─ cd [preach] in & that place cd be taken by some worthy disciple of our all accepted Enoch & that I might sit down with you, united of standing here. Besides D. loved & [illeg] Free Inquiry, I'm sure he'd let me speak, & be quite as good finding affords;─ And believe



Carlyle & Darwin

D's intellectual position work & theory of O. of S.

─ {Heredity Monkey theory not degrading

I. no Biologist

Religion is judge

Common juryman.

I knew the man.

D's general Intellectual Position

(a) Discarded Xty Letter

(b) Unlike Carlyle, no Deist.

"made in God's image

"What the Lord" Letter

no. Religion─

Social Speculn.

(1) Fetisheism

(2) Highest Morality I 86 I. 394

Biologic Specialism

Free Inquiry, Saurians

Funeral in West. Abbey


Last Sunday I spoke of Carlyle, a [illeg] [chief of][illeg] a moralist who ignored all science superior to astronomy [illeg] [of History, chemistry indeed] who denounce of X blatantly denied & despised any [illeg] social science— On the Legalise side: a conserver He is [illeg] chief of mystic moralists

Tonight I speak of Darwin. In him we have Scientific Specialist man of Science, a specialist, a Biological, that is a professor most mild & yet most [illeg] & most of the highest science then sudden grow commonly acknowledged viz Biology, [2 lines crossed] I have wish to speak of him & his work intellectual points, his work & especially of his famous theory on the Origin of Species, wh. the public rightly take to be represented by the proof that men descended from monkeys.

had made us all think;— & we soonest & whether we like it or not, we have to also reckon with him, settle accd

Combe wd. have recogd D's labours in heredity: — importce

Organism & environment

Ways & minds of animals

Habits [words illeg]

C[words illeg] of animals to men.

{[words illeg] comfort & consequence persistent small movement

Theory not degrading

[in margin:] the rebukes of materialism, they make of 'the confusion of the p also like [words illeg]. His [words illeg].is the Spiritualist, with the [words illeg]

The moralist, [words illeg] gracious most personally


His Social Speculn.

(1) Feticheism. Polyth [illeg] — no double g

(2) Ascribes too much to reason. This betrayal tho common, not too proof Liberal crowd

3. His idea of the highest morality ─ Read p. 86

This is Pos. admits one good principle of Sociocratic inheritance

─ Only 5 [made] incoherent imperfection


His life

His intellect, his & a large measure greatness of his heart by hard [words illeg]admirable books Especially Great achievements in Biology) He had succeeded in personally in which he claimed Unlimited Inquiry ─ ─ especially freedom from Religious Control.. This he justly felt & cd. prove in the Past had been very obstructive to Science:─ & even in his own case had been obstructive enough

His feeling of Duty, Posituratic, Saurians. This then was the man who was buried in West Abbey with the highest distinction


[printed clipping:]

"Nothing is, in our opinion, so destructive to profound and earnest scientific work as the scholastic jealousies of our great universities and the party struggles of our learned academies. From these, as well as from all posts of distinction and other distracting influences of outer life, Darwin always kept himself aloof, and he acted wisely."

Prof. Haeckel publishes a letter which Darwin wrote, after repeated entreaties, to a young student at Jena who pressed for his opinions. As it is the most definite statement of Darwin's attitude towards religion it deserves quotation:─

"Down: 5th June, 1879.

"Dear Sir,

"I am much occupied, an old man, with bad health, and I have not time to answer your questions fully, even supposing that they admit of answer. Science has nothing to do with Christ, except so far as the habit of scientific observation makes a man careful in admitting evidence. As regards myself, I do not believe that any revelation has ever been made. In respect to a future life, every man must make his decision between contradictory and undetermined probabilities.

"I remain

"Your well-wisher,


It is curious to contrast Darwin's simple statement with Prof. Haeckel's assertion of 'a monistic religion of humanity."

[The Academy, no. 545 (14 October 1882), p. 279.]

[printed clipping:]



SIR,─ The following letter of the late Charles Darwin was quoted in The Evening Standard of October 22, 1883, as from "a work just issued." It would be of service to me if you or any of your readers can give me the title of the book referred to.

"Down, Beckenham, Kent.─ Dear Sir, ─ It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man can be an ardent Theist and an Evolutionist. You are right about Kingsley. Asa Gray, the eminent botanist, is another case in point. What my own views may be is a question of no consequence to any one but myself. But, as you ask, I may state that my judgment often fluctuates. Moreover, whether a man deserves to be called a Theist depends upon the definition of the term, which is much too large a subject for a note. In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. I think that generally (and more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind."─ Dear Sir, yours faithfully, CH. DARWIN."

I am, your obedient servant,


Huntingdon-road, Cambridge, September 2.

[Published in The Evening Standard (14 September 1885): 3. A reply to this was published on 15 September, p. 3: "SIR,─ The letter quoted by Mr. Francis Darwin in your issue of to-day occurs in a work entitled 'Aspects of Scepticism,' by the Rev. J. Fordyce, and purports to be an answer received by the author to a communication addressed by him to the late Charles Darwin.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant, H. RITCHIE.
September 14."]


— All Religions inspire & control─

— Positis. Gen. Position.

{Catholicism Deism

Intellectual control, Real, Useful, Sederéal Ast

— Origin of Species

Inperfantile ─ Secula seculorum Metamorphosis

Intellectual & Moral Fut

{Uncertain practice

Group under group

Domesticated Body

Geology & Record

Malthus &c

─other origin

{Rudimentary Embryo Geograph dist Geolog, Sucy

— Real? Useful?

— Religious control rec.' Progress Order Positivism

— Conclusion


Desc. of man I 86} As the feelings of love & sympathy & the power of self command become strengthened by habit, & as the power of reasoning becomes clearer so that man can appreciate the justice of the judgments of his fellow man, he will feel himself impelled, independently of any pleasure or pain felt at the moment, to certain lines of conduct. He may then say, I am the supreme judge of my own conduct, & in the words of Kant, I will not in my own person inviolate the dignity of Humanity


Desc. of Man II 394 O. of Sp } Ultimately man no longer accepts the praise or blame of his fellows as his chief guide, tho' few escape this influence but his habitual convictions controlled by reason afford him the safest rule. His conscience then becomes his supreme judge & monitor


Huxley on Classif of animals

"By the classification of any series of objects, is meant the actual or ideal arrangement together of those wh. are like & the separation of those wh. are unlike;— the purpose of this arrangement being to facilitate the operations of the mind in clearly conceiving & retaining in the memory the characters of the objects in 'question.'

Thus there may be as many classifications of any series of natural, or of others, bodies, as they have properties or relations to one another or to other things; or again as there are modes in which they may be regarded by the mind.

2. The

[Huxley (1869)]


Huxley, 2. "The different members of the animal kingdom, from the highest to the lowest are marvellously connected. Every animal has a something in common with all its fellows: much, with many of them; more, with a few; & usually, so much with several, that it differs but little from them.

59 The 5 groups of animals wh pass under the name of Vertebrata the classes Pisces, Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves, & Mammalia are obviously united

70. The class of Birds consists of animals so essentially similar to Reptiles in all the most essential features of their organisation, that these animals may be said to be merely an extremely modified & aberrant Reptilian type.

[Huxley (1869)]


Biology in Brit Cycl. (Huxley)

The difference between 'artificial' & 'natural' classifications are differences in degree & not in kind. In each case the classification depends upon likeness; but in an artificial classification some prominent & easily observed feature is taken as the mark of resemblance or dissemblace; while in a natural classification, the things classified are arranged according to the locality of their morphological ressemblances, & the features which are taken as the marks of groups are those


which have been ascertained by observation to be the indications of many likenesses or unlikenesses. And thus a natural classification is a great deal more than a mere index. It is a statement of the marks of similarity of organisation; of the kinds of structure wh as a matter of experience, are found universally associated together; & as such, it furnishes the whole foundation for those indications by wh. conclusions as to the nature of the whole of an animal are drawn from a knowledge of some part of



So far as we have gone yet with our breeding, we have not produced from a common stock two breeds which are not more or less fertile with one another.

[Huxley (1863), p. 147]

Species are the smallest groups of animals which can be defined from the other by constant characters which are not sexual"

[Huxley, (1863), p. 104]

Darwin O. of S. 515} The belief that Species were immutable productions was almost unavoidable as long as the history of the world was thought to be of short duration.


Origin 520} Systematists will have only to decide (not that this will be easy) whether any form be sufficiently constant & distinct from other forms, to be capable of definition; & if definable, whether the differences be sufficiently important to deserve a specific name….In short, we shall have to treat species in the same manner as those naturalists treat genera, who admit that genera are merely artificial combinations made for convenience.


1 Pol. Pos. 350} We shall never be called upon to found a system of concrete truth, even as an appendage to the abstract system. Adequately to constitute any one concrete science, as for instance, Meteorology, or Geology, is a task far beyond our inductive or deductive powers; whether from the difficulty of knowing all the truths connected with the subject, or from the difficulty of combining them. But our inability to deal with these extensive & multitudinous subjects is no real cause for regret: since by far the greater number of


them have no considerable value, even as logical exercises. Of the innumerable objects which surround us, a very small proportion deserve our special attention from the direct relation they possess in the Great Being to u who is the centre of our speculations. To continue to spend time & labour in Zoological & geological studies, now that the necessity for the preparatory training of our faculties has ceased, wd be a misuse of faculties which ought to be carefully reserved for their sacred mission

[Comte (1875)]


Origin of S. 496} Altho' geological research has undoubtedly revealed the former existence of many links, bringing numerous forms of life much closer together, it does not yield the infinitely many fine gradations between past & present species required on my theory; & this is the most obvious & forcible of the many objections which may be urged against it.


Huxley 151} "Our great purpose,─ the improvement of man's estate & the widening of his knowledge

[Huxley (1863), p. 151: "So I say that we accept this view as we accept any other, so long as it will help us, & we feel bound to retain it only so long as it will serve our great purpose — the improvement of Man's estate & the widening of his knowledge."]


O of S 512} The natural system (of classification) is a genealogical arrangement in which we have to discover the lines of descent by the most permanent characters, however slight their vital importance may be.

521. The rules for classifying will no doubt become simpler, when we have a definite object in view. We possess no pedigrees or armorial bearings; & we have to discover & trace the many diverging lines of descent in our natural genealogies, by characters of any kind which have long been inherited.


O of S 518} I believe that animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors, & plants from an equal or lesser number.


Huxley, Evolution

The causes & conditions of Variation have yet to be thoroughly explored; & the importance of natural selection will not be impaired even if further inquiries shd. prove that variability is definite, & is determined in certain directions rather than in others, by conditions inherent in


that which varies. It is quite conceivable that every species tends to produce varieties of a limited number & kind, & that the effect of natural selection is to favour the development of some of these, which it opposes the development of others along their predetermined lines of modification.


2 Cor. x 5} Casting down imaginations, & every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, & bringing into capacity every thought to the obedience of Christ.


Wallace 210 Natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, acts perpetually & on an enormous scale. Taking the offspring of each pair of birds, as on the average, only 6 annually one third of these at most will be preserved, while the 2/3rd wh. are least fitted will die. At intervals of a few years, whenever unfavourable circum conditions occur, 5/6' 9/10' or even a greater proportion of the whole yearly production are weeded out, leaving only the most perfect & best adapted to survive

This document has been accessed 4153 times

Return to homepage

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

File last updated 6 November, 2022