Lastly, in looking through the "Times" to see what was going on in the busy world.

I do not state this to fill space (though I believe that Nature does abhor a vacuum), but to prove that my reply and my thanks are sent to you by the earliest leisure I have, though that is but a very contracted opportunity. If I did not think you a good-tempered and truth-loving man, I should not tell you that (spite of the great knowledge, store of facts, capital views of the correlation of the various parts of organic nature, admirable hints about the diffusion, through wide regions of many related organic beings, etc., etc.) I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly, parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow, because I think them utterly false and grievously mischievous. You have DESERTED--after a start in that tram- road of all solid physical truth--the true method of induction, and started us in machinery as wild, I think, as Bishop Wilkins's locomotive that was to sail with us to the moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved, why then express them in the language and arrangement of philosophical induction? As to your grand principle--NATURAL SELECTION--what is it but a secondary consequence of supposed, or known, primary facts! Development is a better word, because more close to the cause of the fact? For you do not deny causation. I call (in the abstract) causation the will of God; and I can prove that He acts for the good of His creatures. He also acts by laws which we can study and comprehend. Acting by law, and under what is called final causes, comprehends, I think, your whole principle. You write of "natural selection" as if it were done curiously by the selecting agent. 'Tis but a consequence of the presupposed development, and the subsequent battle for life. This view of nature you have stated admirably, though admitted by all naturalists and denied by no one of common sense. We all admit development as a fact of history: but how came it about? Here, in language, and still more in logic, we are point-blank at issue. There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly. 'Tis the crown and glory of organic science that it DOES through FINAL CAUSE, link material and moral; and yet DOES NOT allow us to mingle them in our first conception of laws, and our classification of such laws, whether we consider one side of nature or the other. You have ignored this link; and, if I do not mistake your meaning, you have done your best in one or two pregnant cases to break it. Were it possible (which, thank God, it is not) to break it, humanity, in my mind, would suffer a damage that might brutalize it, and sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history. Take the case of the bee-cells. If your development produced the successive modification of the bee and its cells (which no mortal can prove), final cause would stand good as the directing cause under which the successive generations acted and gradually improved. Passages in your book, like that to which I have alluded (and there are others almost as bad), greatly shocked my moral taste. I think, in speculating on organic descent, you OVER-state the evidence of geology; and that you UNDER-state it while you are talking of the broken links of your natural pedigree: but my paper is nearly done, and I must go to my lecture-room. Lastly, then, I greatly dislike the concluding chapter--not as a summary, for in that light it appears good--but I dislike it from the tone of triumphant confidence in which you appeal to the rising generation (in a tone I condemned in the author of the 'Vestiges') and prophesy of things not yet in the womb of time, nor (if we are to trust the accumulated experience of human sense and the inferences of its logic) ever likely to be found anywhere but in the fertile womb of man's imagination.

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume II Page 22

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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