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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Herbert Spencer   23 [February 1860]1

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Sir

I write one line to thank you much for your note. Of my numerous (Private) critics, you are almost the only one who has put the philosophy of the argument, as it seems to me, in a fair way.— Namely, as an hypothesis (with some innate probability as it seems to me) which explains several groups of facts.—

You put the case of selection in your Pamphlet on population in a very striking & clear manner.2 You do not say whether I am to return it; I have not yet had time to read it, for my very small power of work of any kind is much overtaxed.—

If you require the pamphlet back, kindly send me one line: if I do not hear I shall understand that I am to keep it.

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the letter from Herbert Spencer, 22 February 1860.
[Spencer] 1852, pp. 496–501.


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


HS put the case of selection strikingly and clearly in his article [Anonymous, "A theory of population, deduced from the general law of animal fertility", Westminster Rev. 57 (1852): 468–501]. Of CD’s numerous private critics only HS has rendered the philosophy fairly: his argument is an hypothesis that explains groups of facts.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Herbert Spencer
Sent from
Source of text
University of London, Senate House Library (MS. 791/51)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3126,” accessed on 29 November 2021,

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