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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Friedrich Max Müller   3 July 1873


July 3. 1873

Dear Sir,

I am much obliged for your kind note and present of your lectures. I am extremely glad to have received them from you, and I had intended ordering them1

I feel quite sure from what I have read in your works that you would never say anything of an honest adversary to which he would have any just right to object; and as for myself you have often spoken highly of me, perhaps more highly than I deserve

As far as language is concerned I am not worthy to be your adversary, as I know extremely little about it, and that little learnt from very few books. I should have been glad to have avoided the whole subject, but was compelled to take it up as well as I could   He who is fully convinced, as I am, that man is descended from some lower animal, is almost forced to believe a priori that articulate language has been developed from inarticulate cries; and he is therefore hardly a fair judge of the arguments opposed to this belief2

With cordial respect | I remain, dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin


There is an offprint of Max Müller’s ‘Lectures on Mr. Darwin’s philosophy of language’ (Max Müller 1873a) in Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. See letter from Friedrich Max Müller, 29 June 1873 and n. 1.


Thanks FMM for his "Lectures [on Mr Darwin’s philosophy of language", Fraser’s Mag. n.s. 7 (1873): 525–41, 659–78].

CD is not worthy to be FMM’s adversary as he knows very little about language and, being fully convinced man is descended from some lower animal, he is forced to believe a priori that language has developed from inarticulate cries.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Friedrich Max Müller
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 146: 425
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8962,” accessed on 20 September 2021,

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