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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George Warington   7 October [1867]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Oct. 7.

Dear Sir

I hope that you will not think me presumptuous if I cannot resist the pleasure of telling you how much I admire your argument of the origin of species in the Transact. of the Victoria Institute.2 The whole case strikes me as placed in the clearest & most spirited light; & I have no where seen so good an abstract. I quite agree with your Chairman that you have put the whole argument better than I have done.3 But I disagree with you, & it is the only point on which I do disagree, when you say that there is nothing in your article original.4 As I am writing I will ask you two questions, but if you cannot answer them easily, pray do not take any trouble on the subject; Firstly. Where have you seen an account of inherited baldness & deficient nails; & 2ndly of the case of the plane which sent up an evergreen sucker or shoot.5

With sincere admiration of your powers of reasoning & illustration I beg leave to remain dear Sir | yours faithfully | Charles Darwin

P.S. I am charmed with Mr Ince’s argument that the ark was much too big to hold only half a dozen primordial types.6 Mr Ince wd fully appreciate a simple & beautiful theory which Admiral Fitz Roy published some years ago on the extinction of the Ante-diluvial gigantic quadrupeds, namely that the door of the ark was made too small for them to get in7


The year is established by the reference to Warington 1867 (see n. 2, below).
CD refers to Warington’s paper ‘On the credibility of Darwinism’, read on 4 March 1867 and published in the Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute (Warington 1867); CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. For more on the Victoria Institute, see the letter to A. R. Wallace, 12 and 13 October [1867] and n. 20.
In Warington 1867, p. 62, the chairman of the meeting is reported as having commented, ‘I think he [Warington] has done more justice to Darwinism than the book of Darwin himself.’
CD refers to Warington’s statement, ‘the present paper makes no claim to originality’ (Warington 1867, p. 61).
See Warington 1867, pp. 46–7. The descriptions of these cases are scored in CD’s copy.
Warington’s paper was discussed at three subsequent meetings of the Victoria Institute. At the second of these, William Ince commented on the size of Noah’s Ark and the fact that it must have been ‘a great deal too large for eight or ten species only’ (Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute 2 (1867): 95).
CD probably refers to Robert FitzRoy’s ‘A very few remarks with reference to the Deluge’ in Narrative 2: 657–82. FitzRoy wrote, ‘The small number of enormous animals that have existed since the Deluge, may be a consequence of this shutting out of all but a very few’ (Narrative 2: 671 n.).


Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Warington, George. 1867. On the credibility of Darwinism. [Read 4 March 1867.] Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute 2: 39–62.


Admires his paper ["On the credibility of Darwinism", J. Trans. Victoria Inst. 2 (1867): 39–62, and discussion 63–125].

Ridicules William H. Ince and Admiral FitzRoy on their naive ideas about Noah’s ark.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Warington
Sent from
Source of text
Royal College of Physicians of London (MS1001/95)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5642,” accessed on 21 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15