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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Herbert Spencer   2 February [1860]1

Down Bromley Kent

Feb 2d

My dear Sir

I know so few people, that I can really think of only one person, to whom it would be any good to send your gigantic programme.2 This one is

Dr. Drysdale care of Dr. Lane Moor Park Farnham Surrey3

I asked Huxley to put my own name & that of my Brothers on the list for copies.—4

From your letter I infer that you have not received a copy of my Book, which I am very sorry for: I told Mr. Murray to send you one, amongst the first distributed, in November: it was addressed, I am almost sure, to care of Mess Longman.5 Will you enquire, if you think it worth while, & let me know if not there; & then I will write to Murray to see what has become of it—6

I was so much out of health when I was writing my Book, that I grudged every hour of labour, & therefore gave no sort of history of progress of opinion.—

I have now written a Preface for the foreign Editions & for any future English Edit (shd there be one) in which I give a very brief sketch, & have with much pleasure alluded to your excellent essay on Development in your general Essays.7 Can you give me precise date of its publication in Leader, as I arrange my notices chronologically? I am sorry to say that I have never read your Psychology,8 having no strength to spare but I have just looked at the latter part.— May I say in my Preface that you have treated Psychology on the principle “of the necessary acquirement of each mental power & capacity by gradation”? You will find that I use these words in inverted commas towards close of my volume (P. 489 of Reprint) & when I wrote them, I did not think of your work.—9

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin

Kindly answer my two questions soon


The year is given by the reference to the first volume of Spencer 1860–2.
CD refers to the subscription list for Spencer’s ten-volume series entitled ‘System of synthetic philosophy’, the first work of which was First principles (Spencer 1860–2). CD’s subscriber’s copy of the book is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Edward Wickstead Lane was the proprietor of Moor Park hydropathic establishment, which CD had visited on several occasions since 1857 (see Correspondence vols. 6 and 7). Dr Drysdale may have been related to Lady Drysdale, Lane’s mother-in-law.
The publishing firm of Longman, at that time headed by Thomas Longman, published the first volume of Spencer’s Essays (Spencer 1858–63). Spencer’s name appears on the presentation list CD drew up for Origin (see Correspondence vol.8, Appendix III).
On 10 February 1860 Spencer wrote to a friend (Duncan ed. 1908, p. 98): I am just reading Darwin’s book (a copy of which has been searching for me since November and has only just come to hand) and want to send him the ‘Population’ [Spencer 1852] to show how thoroughly his argument harmonizes with that I have used at the close of that essay. See also letter from Herbert Spencer, 22 February 1860.
Spencer sent a copy of the first volume of his Essays (Spencer 1858–63) to CD late in 1859 (Correspondence vol. 7, letter to Herbert Spencer, 25 November [1859]). CD’s copy is in the Darwin Library–Down. Spencer’s essay ‘The development hypothesis’, number 2 of ‘The Hawthorne papers’ originally published in The Leader in 1852, was reprinted in Spencer 1858–63, 1: 389–95. In this essay, Spencer advocated the view that species had been modified and that the modification could be attributed to a change of external conditions. CD cited the essay in his historical preface (Origin US ed., pp. viii–ix, and Origin 3d ed., p. xvii; see Correspondence vol.8, Appendix IV).
Spencer 1855. CD’s presentation copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL. See Correspondence vol. 6, letter to Herbert Spencer, 11 March [1856].
Spencer apparently approved of CD’s statement: it appears in the historical preface (Origin US ed., p. ix; see Correspondence vol.8, Appendix IV).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Origin 3d ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 3d edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1861.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Origin US ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. A new edition, revised and augmented by the author. By Charles Darwin. New York: D. Appleton. 1860.

[Spencer, Herbert]. 1852. A theory of population, deduced from the general law of animal fertility. Westminster Review n.s. 1: 468–501.

Spencer, Herbert. 1855. The principles of psychology. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans.

Spencer, Herbert. 1860–2. First principles. London: George Manwaring; Williams & Norgate.


Has prepared a historical sketch [of writers on origin of species] for foreign editions of Origin. It includes HS. He was too ill to provide it for the 1st ed.

Sorry Murray has not sent HS his copy of Origin, as he was instructed.

Huxley will put CD and E. A. Darwin down for HS’s gigantic [publishing] programme. Suggests Dr Drysdale be approached about it.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Herbert Spencer
Sent from
Source of text
University of London, Senate House Library (MS.791/47)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2680,” accessed on 6 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8