RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1909. [Letter to Joseph Leidy, 1861]. In H. F. Osborn, Darwin and paleontology. Fifty years of Darwinism; modern aspects of evolution; centennial addresses in honor of Charles Darwin. American Association for the Advancement of Science. New York: H. Holt & Co., pp. 209-210.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited by John van Wyhe 5.2022. RN1

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here. Letter 3081 Darwin to [Joseph Leidy], 4 Mar [1861], Down.

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On March 4, 1860, Charles Darwin wrote to  Joseph Leidy of Philadelphia: —  

"Your note has pleased me more than you could  readily believe; for I have during a long time heard all  good judges speak of your paleontological labours in  terms of the highest respect. Most paleontologists  (with some few good exceptions) entirely despise my  work, consequently approbation from you has gratified  me much; all the older geologists with the one exception  of Lyell, whom I look at as a host in himself, are even  more vehement against the modification of species than  are even the paleontologists. I have, however, been  equally surprised and pleased at finding that several of  the younger geologists, who are now doing such good  work in our own geological survey go with me and are  as strong as I can be on the imperfections of geological  record.  

"Your sentence that you have some interesting facts  'in support of the doctrine of selection, which I shall  

 1 Darwin's letter to Dr. Leidy is under date of March 4, 1860, in  reply, as he states, to Leidy's letter of December 10, 1859.  

 On March 27, 1860, upon the recommendation of Isaac C. Lea  and Dr. Joseph Leidy, Darwin was elected a corresponding  member of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. It is  probable that to the Philadelphia Academy belongs the honor of  having been the first foreign society to accord this great work  official recognition. This recognition was appreciated by Darwin,  as is shown by his reference to it in a letter to Sir Charles Lyell,  dated May 8, 1860.  

 The original letter is in the collection of Dr. Joseph Leidy of Philadelphia, nephew of the great anatomist.

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report at a favourable opportunity,' has delighted me even more than the rest of your note. I feel convinced that, though as long as I have strength I shall go on working on this subject, the sole way of getting my views partially accepted will be by sound workers showing that they partially accept them. I say 'partially,' for I have never for a moment doubted that, though I can not see my errors, much in my book will be proved erroneous."

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

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