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Darwin Correspondence Project

From ?   13 September 1874

Sept. 13th. 1874.

Dear Sir,

Knowing that so many unfavourable impressions have been formed of your valuable works, I cannot help stating my own on perusing the ‘Origin of Species.’

I can assure you that I read it very guardedly, having some vague notions that I should meet with something opposed to religious feeling, but on finishing it could say, that I had never before read any book which had so raised my mind ‘through Nature up to Nature’s God.’1

Your Theory seems to me merely an extension of the law of growth by which we are every where surrounded; an application of the Science of Geology to Vegetable and Animal organisms.

It inestimably enhances, in my mind, the Infiniteness of God, to think of the perfecting of the objects of His Creation as the work of myriads of years, rather than a momentary production; and far more in accordance with His works of gradual development which we now see in progress. ‘That is the way God works’ said a friend one day to me, pointing to a little sand that the wind was slightly moving; and it seemed to unclose to me great things.

With much respect | I remain | One who is grateful for the perusal of the Origin of Species.

Professor Darwin.


The quotation is from Alexander Pope’s Essay on man (Pope 1733–4, epistle IV, lines 331–2): ‘Slave to no sect, who takes no private road | But looks through Nature up to Nature’s God’.


Pope, Alexander. 1733–4. An essay on man. Address’d to a friend. 4 pts. London: J. Wilford.


An anonymous letter praising the Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 159: 143
Physical description
AL 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9635,” accessed on 24 July 2021,

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