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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. T. Goodale   11 February 1874

Bowdoin College | Brunswick Maine USA

Feb 11. 1874

My Dear Sir,

Will you pardon a Student for coming to you for information on a point which perplexes him?

I have lately been reading Dr. Hopkin’s “Outline Study of Man”.1 In the book he takes a Stand against the development theory.

Looking at Man as made up of several systems, the digestive, circulatory, respiratory, secretory, absorbent, osseous &c. he says of the osseous “xx each bone of the Skeleton is formed from a distinct center of ossification, is formed as a distinct instrument, in most cases tipped with cartilage, & except through this cartilage never comes into contact with any other bone. The bones of the upper extremity are a separate organization that do not touch except at a single point those of the lower. Indeed each bone seems to have been formed separately, as a mechanic forms nails, & pegs & the different portions of a chair & then brings them together. There is nothing to indicate that they start from a common centre “xx” & if that be so when but a single system is concerned much more is it so in relation to the several systems. To me it does not seem possible that each & all of these can so exist in a single cell that their production can be at all accounted for by development. The process stands by itself *—both that of origination & growth, & is utterly inscrutable”2

I am somewhat perplexed by these statements & in my own mind cannot reconcile them to the development theory. Probably I have not sufficiently studied the matter, but I have seen nothing in the course of my reading on the Subject that covers it.

Is it asking too much of you to Enlighten me on it, or to direct me where I can find it explained? If you have not seen the work alluded to may I have the pleasure of sending you a copy? I should be much gratified to reciprocate the kindness you did me in forwarding your very valuable pamphlet on the “Habits & Movements of climbing plants.”3

Very truly your obed Servant | W. T. Goodale


Goodale refers to Mark Hopkins and Hopkins 1873. Hopkins had been the president of Bowdoin College until 1872.
The quotation is from Mark Hopkins 1873, pp. 45–6.
Goodale refers to ‘Climbing plants’. There is no record of CD’s having sent a copy to Goodale.


‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

Hopkins, Mark. 1873. An outline study of man; or, the body and mind in one system. New York: Scribner, Armstrong, & Company.


Asks CD if he can reconcile a passage in Mark Hopkins’ Outline study of man [1873] with the theory of development.

Letter details

Letter no.
Walter T. Goodale
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine
Source of text
DAR 165: 72
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9282,” accessed on 27 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22