Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Whewell in the Darwin Correspondence

The Darwin Correspondence Project is online and fully functioning, with a useful search function. Whewell, of course, figures in the correspondence quite a bit, although usually in an incidental way. This, however, is from Whewell's letter to Darwin thanking him for a copy of the first edition of the Origin of Species:

I have to thank you for a copy of your book on the `Origin of Species'. You will easily believe that it has interested me very much, and probably you will not be surprized to be told that I cannot, yet at least, become a convert to your doctrines. But there is so much of thought and of fact in what you have written that it is not to be contradicted without careful selection of the ground and manner of the dissent, which I have not now time for. I must therefore content myself with thanking you for your kindness.


I was amused to see Darwin's reaction to this in a letter to Lyell a couple of days later:

Possibly you might like to see enclosed note from Whewell, merely as showing that he is not horrified with us.—

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