skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Lawson Tait   6 August 1876

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Aug. 6th 76

My dear Sir

I shall feel much pleased & honoured if I am elected one of your Members, & I beg you to return on my part my best thanks to your Society.—1

I read with interest the article which you were so good as to send me & I agree with the greater part.—2 Under a theological point of view, I cannot however quite agree that the origin of evil is explained by survival. Why shd a small cut cause tetanus or child-birth—or parasitic worms cause so much suffering? Why was not man formed with sympathies extending beyond his—own tribe, so that murder could have been a crime from the earliest period?

I am glad that you have not given up polydactylism.—3

I am Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin


In his letter of 4 August [1876], Tait had asked permission to name CD an honorary member of the Birmingham Natural History Society.
See letter from Lawson Tait, 4 August [1876] and n. 3. Tait’s article on the evolution of moral life (L. Tait 1876c) has not been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL.
See letter from Lawson Tait, 4 August [1876]. Tait had discussed polydactylism in his review of Variation 2d ed. (L. Tait 1876b).


Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.


CD accepts membership in the Birmingham Natural History Society.

Thanks RLT for article. CD cannot quite agree that "under a theological point of view, the origin of evil is explained by survival".

Is glad RLT has not given up polydactylism.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Lawson (Lawson) Tait
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 221.5: 35
Physical description
3pp (Photocopy)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10571,” accessed on 1 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24