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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Henry Cecil   21 April 1874

Bregner, | Bournemouth.

April 21st., 1874.

My dear Sir,

I was from home last week when your very courteous acknowledgt. of my thanks as a reader of the “Researches” arrived.1

I am well satisfied that as regards the many-sided natural history of the world it is quite the most admirable book of travel I ever read. That as animals we are very closely akin to every beast of the field, and creeping thing of the leaf and ground is no new thought to me. I cannot understand how anyone should closely observe beasts birds and insects and doubt it;— but that we have a whole world of being into which these do not enter seems to me as little doubtful too.

You will say—“Can you conceive of a Tierra-del-Fuegian developing into a Darwin?” I think “Yes”—and that your own observation on board the “Beagle” is no little help towards conceiving it.2 But I confess that until we catch some lower creature in the act of passing the “great gulf fixed”3 between them and us, I must consider the difference not one of developement but essential life—and probable future history. And that on the ground simply of observation and established facts.

But the misfortune of that unmapped region (as it seems to us) is that it has been explored by few Darwins—and that there Sciolism, pretence, superstition and prejudice have triumphantly held their own.

But I must only again thank you and remain | yours very truly | Henry Cecil.

Charles Darwin Esqre.


See letter from Henry Cecil, 9 April 1874. CD’s reply to Cecil has not been found.
CD described his encounters with the Yaghan peoples of Tierra del Fuego at length in Journal of researches.
Luke 16: 26.


Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.


Affirms his belief in an impassable spiritual gulf between man and the lower creatures.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Cecil
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 161: 129
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9424,” accessed on 21 September 2021,

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