RECORD: Campbell, George, Duke of Argyll. 1885. [Recollection of Darwin in 1882]. What is science? The substance of a lecture delivered in Glasgow. Good words (April): 243-4.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited by John van Wyhe 3.2018. RN1

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here.

[page] 243

I should like to say a few words upon the theory of development due to Mr. Darwin. I have never thought, and I do not now think, that his theory is in the least degree inconsistent with Divine Purpose and Design. But then it must be properly understood, with all its facts clearly ascertained, and with all such language eliminated from it as shuts out from our view the obvious purpose and the prearranged directions of the path which development has taken in the history of the world. My own strong impression is that there are a great many scientific men in the world who are a great deal more Darwinian than Darwin himself was. I have seen some letters published in scientific journals, from which it was quite obvious that the writers rejoiced in Darwin simply because they thought that Darwin had dispensed with God, and that he had discovered some process entirely independent of Design which eliminated altogether the idea of a personal Creator of the universe. Now it so happens that I have some means of knowing that this was not the attitude of Mr. Darwin's own mind. In the last year of his life Mr. Darwin did me the honour of calling upon me in my house in London, and I had a long

page] 244

and very interesting conversation with that distinguished observer of nature. Darwin was above all things an observer. He did not profess to be a theologian or a metaphysician; it was his work in the world to record facts, so far as he could see them, faithfully and honestly, and to connect them with theories and hypotheses, which were constructed, at all events, for a temporary convenience, as all hypotheses in science must be before being proved. But in the course of that conversation I said to Mr. Darwin, with reference to some of his own remarkable works on the "Fertilisation of Orchids," and upon "The Earthworms," and various other observations he made of the wonderful contrivances for certain purposes in nature— I said it was impossible to look at these without seeing that they were the effect and the expression of Mind. I shall never forget Mr. Darwin's answer. He looked at me very hard and said, "Well, that often comes over me with overwhelming force; but at other times," and he shook his head vaguely, adding "it seems to go away."

This document has been accessed 2294 times

Return to homepage

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

File last updated 28 November, 2022