[In a letter to Sir Charles Lyell reference is made to Sedgwick's review in the "Spectator", March 24:

"I now feel certain that Sedgwick is the author of the article in the "Spectator". No one else could use such abusive terms. And what a misrepresentation of my notions! Any ignoramus would suppose that I had FIRST broached the doctrine, that the breaks between successive formations marked long intervals of time. It is very unfair. But poor dear old Sedgwick seems rabid on the question. "Demoralised understanding!" If ever I talk with him I will tell him that I never could believe that an inquisitor could be a good man: but now I know that a man may roast another, and yet have as kind and noble a heart as Sedgwick's."

The following passages are taken from the review:

"I need hardly go on any further with these objections. But I cannot conclude without expressing my detestation of the theory, because of its unflinching materialism;--because it has deserted the inductive track, the only track that leads to physical truth;--because it utterly repudiates final causes, and thereby indicates a demoralised understanding on the part of its advocates."

"Not that I believe that Darwin is an atheist; though I cannot but regard his materialism as atheistical. I think it untrue, because opposed to the obvious course of nature, and the very opposite of inductive truth. And I think it intensely mischievous."

"Each series of facts is laced together by a series of assumptions, and repetitions of the one false principle. You cannot make a good rope out of a string of air bubbles."

"But any startling and (supposed) novel paradox, maintained very boldly and with something of imposing plausibility, produces in some minds a kind of pleasing excitement which predisposes them in its favour; and if they are unused to careful reflection, and averse to the labour of accurate investigation, they will be likely to conclude that what is (apparently) ORIGINAL, must be a production of original GENIUS, and that anything very much opposed to prevailing notions must be a grand DISCOVERY,--in short, that whatever comes from the 'bottom of a well' must be the 'truth' supposed to be hidden there."

In a review in the December number of 'Macmillan's Magazine,' 1860, Fawcett vigorously defended my father from the charge of employing a false method of reasoning; a charge which occurs in Sedgwick's review, and was made at the time ad nauseam, in such phrases as: "This is not the true Baconian method." Fawcett repeated his defence at the meeting of the British Association in 1861. (See an interesting letter from my father in Mr. Stephen's 'Life of Henry Fawcett,' 1886, page 101.)]

CHARLES DARWIN TO W.B CARPENTER. Down, April 6th [1860].

My dear Carpenter,

I have this minute finished your review in the 'Med. Chirurg. Review.' (April 1860.) You must let me express my admiration at this most able essay, and I hope to God it will be largely read, for it must produce a great effect. I ought not, however, to express such warm admiration, for you give my book, I fear, far too much praise. But you have gratified me extremely; and though I hope I do not care very much for the approbation of the non-scientific readers, I cannot say that this is at all so with respect to such few men as yourself. I have not a criticism to make, for I object to not a word; and I admire all, so that I cannot pick out one part as better than the rest. It is all so well balanced. But it is impossible not to be struck with your extent of knowledge in geology, botany, and zoology. The extracts which you give from Hooker seem to me EXCELLENTLY chosen, and most forcible. I am so much pleased in what you say also about Lyell. In fact I am in a fit of enthusiasm, and had better write no more. With cordial thanks,

Yours very sincerely, C. DARWIN.

CHARLES DARWIN TO C. LYELL. Down, April 10th [1860].

My dear Lyell,

Thank you much for your note of the 4th; I am very glad to hear that you are at Torquay.

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book