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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. W. Merriam   13 April 1873

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

April 13th 73

Dear Sir

As I suppose that Comus & the newspaper were sent in good faith, I thank you for your kindness & for your letter.1 The abusive article in the newspaper amused me more than Comus: I cannot tell from the wonderful mistakes in the article, whether the writer is merely ignorant or blunders for the sake of fun.2

Yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin.


Merriam’s letter and the enclosures have not been found, but Merriam probably sent CD two newspaper clippings: a description of the parade and ball held by the Mystick Krewe of Comus to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans, containing a copy of the poem ‘The missing links to Darwin’s origin of species’ (Daily Picayune, 26 February 1873), and an article from the New Orleans Times, 26 February 1873, containing a heated denouncement of Darwinian theory and of CD personally.
The New Orleans Times article was full of inaccuracies; for example, it identified John Lubbock and Charles Lyell as opponents of CD and claimed that CD’s theory was the same as that of Jean Baptiste Lamarck. For more on Comus, the theme of the parade, and the anti-Darwinian article, see Tinker 1953, pp. 325–31.


Tinker, Edward Laroque. 1953. Creole city: its past and its people. New York: Longmans, Green & Co.


Thanks AWM for "Comus" and an abusive New Orleans Mardi Gras newspaper editorial; he cannot tell from the "wonderful mistakes" whether the writer is "witty, ignorant, or blunders for the sake of fun".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Arthur Walter Merriam
Sent from
Source of text
Tinker 1953, p. 331
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8858F,” accessed on 20 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21