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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. E. Dobbs   17 January 1872

Richmond Road | Ealing. W.


I send you a pamphlet which I hope you will accept, if only as a mark of respect, & as I hardly expect that your time, which is so valuable to biological science, should even for a few moments be taken up with another subject, I will tell you why I send it, & why I think it would interest you if you were to read it.1

Holding the unity & harmony of all kosmical action, I have applied the principle of that natural selection which you demonstrated, to the working of legislative institutions, & although it does not appear on the surface you will see the same principle in action in a different subject matter & among different surroundings. I have taken Mr Hare’s well known plan, (well known at least to students of political science) & by new dispositions as to the surplus votes, arranged that the action of the electorate & of the candidates will result in a struggle for political life, in which the unfit will be surely eliminated, & the most fit will have most power.2 Mr. Hare, I may say, adopts my plan as it stands in the edition I send you, (I merely mention this to induce you to glance through it)—for if an inventor accepts a modification of his invention it may be taken for granted that it is a real improvement. I will not trespass further, but I am sure that Mr. Darwin is interested in everything which tends to social & political progress, so I send it.

I am | With the greatest & truest respect | Yours faithfully | Archibald E. Dobbs.

Jan. 17. 1872.


Dobbs refers to his General representation on a complete readjustment and modification of Mr. Hare’s plan (Dobbs 1871); no copy has been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL.
Thomas Hare had devised a system of proportional representation for the House of Commons and other electoral bodies (ODNB).


Dobbs, Archibald Edward. 1871. General representation on a complete readjustment and modification of Mr. Hare’s plan. London: Longmans, Green, & 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.


Sends a pamphlet [not identified] in which he applies the principle of natural selection to the working of legislative institutions.

Letter details

Letter no.
Archibald Edward Dobbs
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 187
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8164,” accessed on 16 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20