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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Ignatius Jackowski   18 June 1871

By Warsaw. to Russia. | Governement of Minsk, Nieswiz, Swoiatyczy, at Kulik.—

6/18. June 1871.1

My dear Sir!

Having perused in certain Polish Newspaper the repport of your work, entitled “The descent of Man & selection in Relation to sex,” where you were pleased to put a Monkey for our Ancestor, I take the liberty to communicate to you my observations of the same matter which occupied my attention from many years.—2 I do not believe nor Moses’ tradition contained in the Old Testament about the creation of Paradise with Adam & Eve & fruit trees with other nonsenses, & in the punishement of human race by deluge of earth &C.— I pretend3 that before the Deluge, which was perhaps not once, as it was necessary to strengthen the Glob by the force of fire & watter, the human Being was not created on the earth, although fishes & other animals were in existance, as we find a prove of it in high mountains & pittes which formerly beeing shores of the sea, when watter was exhausted by the pressure of the atmospere & the earth having been petrified in great stones or rocks, we find in them the bones of fishes, oysters, & other animals even of those which are now not in existance, but never of a human bone.—

Even the present Islands England & Ireland when they were cut of from the Continent by the Pas de Calais,4 were unpeopled & were during the inondation not entirely covered with watter, as the prove is that there were the woolves in living state to our times when they were destroyed by poison since 1835 to 1840 & now you have not one wolf, which cannot arive from the Continent.5

My opinion is that when the land was prepared to support the human Being, the Almighty had trown the human seeds ower the earth, which they grew accordingly to the climate.— And as a prove that we do not procid from one source we find on human form of different climates the differences of skin colours as well as of a construction of our muscles & bones.— The Africans are black, but our professors, the Clergy, who supported the Bible having not any reasonable ⁠⟨⁠fou⁠⟩⁠ndation, pretended: that the black colour of African natives was the consequence of the Sun, while the same black men removed to American or European climates produce the issue of the same black colour.—

When America was discovered by Columbus6 the people found there were of copper colour & of different form of skull.— The same fact we may find to the present time over all the world.— When Spaniards had destroyed the original Inhabitants of America & that Country was peopled by Europeans & Africans, the new Inhabitants had not chaged their colour.— Some 30 years ago at the London politechnic Institution a certain Lecturer, whose name I do not recollect, brought from Pultava (in Russia) a certain number of head sculs of Slavonian & Swedish bodies, who were entered7 there in 1703 after the Battle when Charles XII was defited by Russians.—8 And he, the Lecturer before great audiance had shown to us the difference between Slavonian, Swedish & English Sculs.—

And although we are the Children of one God, we differe amongst ourselves in languige as well as in political and religious ideas, & the last we confound so much with a politic that we differing in religion became inplacable enemis to each other, & this object in the past time was the reason of sever persecution as it may be seen in Cantu’s work lately published,9 where we find that when the Astronomy began to assume its observation by the Polish Catholic priest, Copernicus, at Torun in Poznania,10 who on the tradition of Pitagores deposited in the Athenian Museum some 3 centuries before Chist,11 began to observe the movement of the earth & communicated his discoveries to the learned People at the University of Padua & Crakow, two Catholic Teologians: Augustinus & Cosmias12 condemned that theory & described, that our glob is a quadrangel with very high walls, on the sumit of which there was an arch, on which the Almighty put two lanterns, one to illuminate the world in the daytime & the other in the night, & whoever would be of different opinion, “let him be condemned”.— The pope reigning at that time approved that opinion, appointed Sacra Inquisitia, called those two fools the holy men, & the progress of astronomy was prohibited.—13

Now we can see & freelly discus such questions for which in 1666 in Smithfield Market in London so many thousands perished on the block.—14

If you encourage me by your answer, or perhaps by sending me your work to peruse, I should try to communicate to you great many of my observations, of which perhaps you will be able to make any use.—

Having nothing to do with the English language for many years, I forgot it, but I hope that you will understend me.—

Please to send me a direction of Mr. Josiah Parkes the Ingenier, or perhaps of any Pole, if they are living yet.—

I have the honour to remain Your | Most Obdt. Humble Servant | Major Ignatius Jackowski

M⁠⟨⁠r⁠⟩⁠ Darwing. | The Author of the Descent of Man.— At John Murrey’s15 | London.—


Jackowski gives both the Julian (6 June) and Gregorian (18 June) calendar dates.
The reference is to Descent; the Polish newspaper has not been identified.
Jackowski probably intended ‘contend’.
Pas de Calais: strait of Calais (French). This is the French name for the strait of Dover, that is, the narrowest part of the English Channel.
Wolves were extinct in Britain well before the nineteenth century, although stories of their persistence until the 1840s in parts of Scotland still circulated (see J. E. Harting 1880, pp. 115–205, especially p. 170).
Christopher Columbus.
Jackowski probably intended ‘interred’.
The London Polytechnic Institution, Regent Street, was founded in 1838 as a place of popular instruction in science (ODNB s.v. Bachhoffner, George Henry). Charles XII of Sweden was defeated by the Russian army in 1709 at Poltava, now in Ukraine. The lecturer has not been identified.
Jackowski refers to Cesare Cantù and Cantù 1871, a paper on Nicholas Copernicus.
Copernicus was born in the Hanseatic city of Thorn, now Toruń, Poland. In the nineteenth century, Thorn was in the Grand Duchy of Posen (‘Poznania’ is the Latin form of the German ‘Posen’ or Polish ‘Poznań’), which was under the control of Prussia. Cantù refers to Copernicus as a canon, not a priest (Cantù 1871, p. 135).
Jackowski probably refers to Pythagoras of Samos and his followers. No written texts by Pythagoras survive; his work was known principally through his followers and commentators (see W. K. E. Guthrie 1962–81, 1: 173 ff.)
Neither Augustinus nor Cosmias is mentioned in Cantù 1871. They have not been identified, but Jackowski might have intended Augustine of Hippo and Cosmas Indicopleustes. Copernicus’s major work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the revolutions of the heavenly spheres) was published in the year he died, 1543. An earlier unpublished sketch of his system, the Commentariolus, was circulated among friends but the date of its composition is uncertain (see Copernicus 1939, pp. 6–7).
Sacra Inquisitia: evidently a reference to the ‘Sacra congregatio Romanae et universalis inquisitionis seu sancti officii’, the inquisitional tribunal of the Catholic church, established by Pope Paul III in 1542. De revolutionibus was placed on the ‘Index of prohibited books’ only in 1616 and was not banned outright; certain changes were required in order that the book should conform to Church orthodoxy (see Gingerich 2004, pp. 145–7).
Smithfield Market was a site of public execution. In the year 1666, the great fire of London took place, but it is not known as a time of religious persecution.
John Murray was CD’s publisher.


Cantù, Cesare. 1871. Copernico. Archivio storico italiano 3d ser. 13: 134–41.

Copernicus, Nicolaus. 1939. Three Copernican treatises: the Commentariolus of Copernicus, the Letter against Werner, the Narratio prima of Rheticus. Translated by Edward Rosen. New York: Columbia University Press.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Gingerich, Owen. 2004. The book nobody read. London: William Heinemann.

Guthrie, William Keith Chambers. 1962–81. A history of Greek philosophy. 6 vol. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Harting, James Edmund. 1880. British animals extinct within historic times: with some account of British wild white cattle. London : Trübner and Co.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Has read of Descent in Polish newspapers. Writes against the Bible view, but believes in the Almighty.

Letter details

Letter no.
Ignatius Jackowski
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 168: 41
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7823,” accessed on 20 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19