I should be very glad to see any good American reviews, as they are all more or less useful. You say that you shall touch on other reviews. Huxley told me some time ago that after a time he would write a review on all the reviews, whether he will I know not. If you allude to the 'Edinburgh,' pray notice SOME of the points which I will point out on a separate slip. In the "Saturday Review" (one of our cleverest periodicals) of May 5th, page 573, there is a nice article on [the 'Edinburgh'] review, defending Huxley, but not Hooker; and the latter, I think, [the 'Edinburgh' reviewer] treats most ungenerously. (In a letter to Mr. Huxley my father wrote: "Have you seen the last "Saturday Review"? I am very glad of the defence of you and of myself. I wish the reviewer had noticed Hooker. The reviewer, whoever he is, is a jolly good fellow, as this review and the last on me showed. He writes capitally, and understands well his subject. I wish he had slapped [the 'Edinburgh' reviewer] a little bit harder.") But surely you will get sick unto death of me and my reviewers.

With respect to the theological view of the question. This is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand, I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe, and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion AT ALL satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can. Certainly I agree with you that my views are not at all necessarily atheistical. The lightning kills a man, whether a good one or bad one, owing to the excessively complex action of natural laws. A child (who may turn out an idiot) is born by the action of even more complex laws, and I can see no reason why a man, or other animal, may not have been aboriginally produced by other laws, and that all these laws may have been expressly designed by an omniscient Creator, who foresaw every future event and consequence. But the more I think the more bewildered I become; as indeed I probably have shown by this letter.

Most deeply do I feel your generous kindness and interest.

Yours sincerely and cordially, CHARLES DARWIN.

{Here follow my father's criticisms on the 'Edinburgh Review':

"What a quibble to pretend he did not understand what I meant by INHABITANTS of South America; and any one would suppose that I had not throughout my volume touched on Geographical Distribution. He ignores also everything which I have said on Classification, Geological Succession, Homologies, Embryology, and Rudimentary Organs--page 496.

He falsely applies what I said (too rudely) about "blindness of preconceived opinions" to those who believe in creation, whereas I exclusively apply the remark to those who give up multitudes of species as true species, but believe in the remainder--page 500.

He slightly alters what I say,--I ASK whether creationists really believe that elemental atoms have flashed into life. He says that I describe them as so believing, and this, surely, is a difference--page 501.

He speaks of my "clamouring against" all who believe in creation, and this seems to me an unjust accusation--page 501.

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book