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Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 229–316 | Cite as

The origin of theOrigin revisited

  • Silvan S. Schweber
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References

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    Gavin de Beer, ed. “Darwin's Journal,”Bull. Brit. Mus. (Nat. Hist.), Historical Series, 2, no. 1 (1959).Google Scholar
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    Peter J.Vorzimmer, “An Early Darwin Manuscript: The ‘Outline and Draft of 1839,’”J. Hist. Biol., 8 (1975), 191–217. The dating Vorzimmer has attributed to these manuscripts has not been accepted by all Darwin scholars. Francis Darwin in 1909, when he published the pencil “Outline,” related it to the “Pencil Sketch” of 1842. R. C. Stauffer has sent me a forthcoming article which identifies the “Draft” (when completed by restoring the separated section 9) as the original unrevised Chapter I of the 1844 “Essay.” Stauffer refers to these manuscripts as the “Pencil Outline Sheet” and the “Draft Chapter I.” For convenience I have dubbed them “Outline and Draft”. The actual date of the manuscripts is not of crucial importance in my use of this material. I thank Prof. Stauffer for this information.Google Scholar
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    Reprinted in C.Darwin and A.Wallace,Evolution by Natural Selection, with a foreword by Gavin de Beer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958).Google Scholar
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    Reprinted in Howard E.Gruber and Paul H.Barrett,Darwin on Man: A Psychological Study of Scientific Creativity (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974), p. 259; hereafter referred to asDarwin on Man.Google Scholar
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    For example, the entry, “Origin of man proved... He who understands baboon would do more toward metaphysics than Locke” on page 84 of the M notebook is dated August 16, 1838. See also the entries in the C notebook, pp. 76–80, which Darwin wrote in the spring of 1838.Google Scholar
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    The “Journal” for August 1838 has the following entry: “Read a good deal of various amusing books paid some attention to Metaphysical subjects.” The list of “Metaphysicians” studied while Darwin was writing the M and N notebooks (from July 1838 to July 1839) is most impressive. It includes, among others, Edmund Burke, James McIntosh, Henry Lord Brougham, Dugald Stewart, Gotthold Lessing, David Hartley, Thomas Reid and David Hume. See the notes by Paul Barrett inDarwin on Man, pp. 297 ff., pp. 353 ff., pp. 405 ff. See also the list of “Books To Be Read” at the end of the C notebook.Google Scholar
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    That Darwin's changing attitude toward the balance of nature is important in understanding Darwin's genesis of his theory of the “natural means of selection” was first stressed by Limoges,La sélection naturelle.Google Scholar
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    The fact that some variations may be neutral is also stated in the first edition of theOrigin, p. 46. All references to theOrigin are to Charles Darwin,On the Origin of Species, a facsimile of the first edition with an introduction by Ernst Mayr (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1966). The introduction is particularly valuable. Darwin's conception of variation and his views on blending and swamping are treated in P. Bowler, “Darwin's Concepts of Variation,”J. Hist. Med. Allied Sci., 29 (1974), 196–212. See also P. Vorzimmer, “Charles Darwin and Blending Inheritance”,Isis, 54 (1963), 371–390.Google Scholar
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    Darwin on Man, pp. 150 ff. The entry on C, p. 133 makes lengthy reference to these pamphlets: “Whole art of making varieties may be inferred from facts stated.” See particularly Michael Ruse, “Charles Darwin and Artificial Selection,”J. Hist. Ideas, 36 (1975), 339–350, who has (in my opinion correctly) stressed the great importance of Darwin's study of the literature of the animal breeders in his arriving at natural selection.Google Scholar
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    The way Darwin spells Comte's name is very revealing. The first reference on p. 69 of the M notebook is to Mr.le Comte (italics mine). His indebtedness to Comte in the entry associating free will and chance, on p. 72 of the M notebook, brings forth the spelling Mr.Le Compte (italics mine). Darwin knew French. See in this connection the dream he later records in the N notebook, p. 33. The aristocratic appellation “M. le Comte” and the spelling “Compte” are noteworthy.Google Scholar
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    See the entry under DavidBrewster in theDictionary of National Biography, ed. Sir LeslieStephen and Sir SidneyLee (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1917); inEminent Persons (biographies reprinted from theTimes of London) (London: Macmillan, 1871–1875);Encyclopedia Britannica, 11 th ed.; and inDictionary of Scientific Biography, C.C. Gillespie, editor-in-chief (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1970).Google Scholar
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    One would have expected a rather critical review from Brewster. It is somewhat ironical that Brewster's antipathy to Whewell should have produced a review on the whole favorable to Comte. Bain, in his book on J. S. Mill, states: “Brewster found with joy a number of observations on Hypothesis and other points, that he could turn against Whewell; and the effect was, I have no doubt, to soften the adverse criticisms.” AlexanderBain,John Stuart Mill: A Criticism (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1882), p. 70. The intense dislike that Brewster and Whewell had for one another lasted their lifetime. In the 1850's their final public confrontation was over the issue of the plurality of worlds.Google Scholar
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    Two of the entries in Darwin's “Journal” for the summer of 1838 read as follows: “August 1st London. Began paper on Glen Roy and finished it. Sept. 6th Finished paper on Glen Roy, one of the most difficult instructive tasks I was ever employed on.” See also N, p. 90.Google Scholar
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    I conjecture that they were used when he drafted hisVariation of Animals and Plants under Domestication in 1867 (see the end of the present section). He very probably referred to these pages when he wrote to Lyell in 1861 (see end of section 9 and n. 191).Google Scholar
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    In section 9, I note Herschel's sharp attack on Comte in his BAAS presidential speech at Cambridge in June 1845. Whewell in the introduction to the first edition of hisPhilosophy of the Inductive Sciences, published in 1840, refers specifically on page xi to Brewster's review of Comte'sPhilosophie positive and notes “the reviewer's extreme laxity and obscurity of view with regard to the nature of science; — defects which make his judgment on such subjects nearly worthless.” In book XI, chapter VIII, and book XIII, chapt. IV, Whewell ‘discusses and confutes” some of Comte's leading doctrines. In his preface to the second edition, published in 1847, Whewell notes that “more than one of my critics had expressed an opinion that ... I had not given due attention to theCours de Philosophie Positive of M. Comte.” In order to show that at the time of the publication of the first edition he had not “lightly passed over those of M. Comte's work which had then appeared,” Whewell includes in the second edition “an additional portion of the work which, though I had written, I excluded from the edition.” This constitutes book XII, chap. XVI, of the second edition and is an extended “confutation” of Comte's view on “causes,” his law of the three stages, and Comte's claim of priority to the insight that the introduction of hypothesis into natural philosophy is strictly indispensable. For some reaction to the later Comte by influential members of the scientific community, see Whewell's article “Comte and Positivism,” inMacMillan's Magazine of March 1866, and particularly Huxley's scathing 1869Forthrightly Review article entitled “The Scientific Aspects of Positivism.” Darwin's reaction to the Huxley review is worth noting. On July 24, 1868, Darwin wrote Hooker: “You must read Huxley v. Comte; he never wrote anything so clever before, and has smashed everybody right and left in grand style. I had a vague wish to read Comte, — and so had George, but he has entirely cured us of any such vain wish.”More Letters of Charles Darwin, ed. F. Darwin and A.C. Seward ed. (New York: Appleton, 1903), I, 313. Two years later Darwin still remembered. On Sept. 30, 1871, Darwin wrote to Huxley: “How you smash Mivart's theology: it is almost equal to your article versus Comte, — that never can be transcended.”Life and Letters,II, 328.Google Scholar
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    Some of these facts are also discussed in chap. 12 of Paley'sNatural Theology, entitledAstronomy. The material is, however, not stressed because in Paley's opinion: “Astronomy ..., is not the best medium through which to prove the agency of an intelligent Creator.” The presentation is also dated: Buffon's nebular hypothesis is referred to, but no mention is made of Laplace's work on this subject. Incidentally, Darwin was also acquainted with the work of Fourier, which is mentioned by Brewster. Fourier's research on thermal phenomena is reviewed by Herschel in sect. 149 of theDiscourse. John F.W. Herschel,A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy (London, 1831). Lyell in hisPrinciples of Geology discusses Fourier's work on the variation of the mean temperature over the surface of the globe and its relation to continental drift. C. Lyell,Principles of Geology, Being an Inquiry How Far the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface Are Referable to Causes Now in Operation, 5th ed.,4 vols. (London, Murray, 1837). Darwin was, of course totally at home with all the “applications” of the physics of heat to geophysics. At this stage in his life, he identified himself professionally as a geologist. For his work on volcanoes (see in particular,Proc. Geol. Soc. London, 2 [1838], 654–660), Darwin had mastered all the literature on theoretical geophysics and geological dynamics (as outlined, for example, in vol. III, chap. VII of Whewell'sHistory of the Inductive Sciences, London, 1837; Darwin had read theHistory by mid-1838). Undoubtedly, he thoroughly appreciated the relationship of the doctrine of central heat (see Whewell,History, p. 559) to the nebular hypothesis of Laplace (Laplace,Exposition du système du monde, 5th ed., Paris, 1824, p. 416). In 1837 Darwin had studied de la Bèche'sResearches in Theological Geology (London: Charles Knight, 1834) and had read J.P. Nichols'sViews of the Architecture of the Heavens (Edinburgh, 1837) where these matters are discussed. However, in the present section I am stressing the difference between thegeological aspect of the nebular hypothesis, which dealt primarily with the notion that the “earth was originally in a state of igneous fusion” (Whewell,History, pp. 558–563), and theastronomical aspects of the nebular hypothesis, which dealt primarily with stellar and planetary genesis and their outward manifestations (such as the diurnal periods of rotation of the planets, the number of binary stars, etc.). It is theastronomical nebular hypothesis which is stressed in Comte'sCours. Of relevance to my discussion is the fact that Lyell during this period used his considerable standing and prestige to oppose the geological nebular hypothesis as it conflicted with his uniformitarian views. Lyell accepted the notion that the inside of the earth was probably very hot. However, he could not agree that the internal heat had been more intense in earlier times, for this would have allowed processes in the past whose intensity was substantially greater than those operating at present. He advocated a cyclic scheme of recurrent upheavals powered by the internal heat. Thus Lyell in the address he made when he retired as president of the Geological Society in 1838 attacked Buckland, whoseBridgewater Treatise on Geology and Minerology Considered with Reference to Natural Theology had just appeared in 1837 (and Darwin had read it). Buckland in hisTreatise endorses the geological nebular hypothesis. Lyell (Proc. Geol. Soc. London, 2[1838], 522) is quite explicit in his opposition: “There was, he [Buckland] says, one universal mass of incandescent elements, forming the entire substance of the primaeval globe, wholly incompatible with any condition of life which can be shown to have ever existed on earth. Believing as I do in the igneous origin of granite, I would still ask, what proof have we in the earth's crust of a state of total and simultaneous liquefaction either of the granitic or other rocks, commonly called plutonic? All our evidence on the contrary, tend to show that the formation of granite, like the deposition of the stratified rocks, has been successive, and that different portions of granite have been in a melted state at distinct and often distant periods.” Lyell's views clearly influenced Darwin. Lyell at the time was Darwin's closest professional colleague and a close personal friend (see Leonard G. Wilson,Charles Lyell; The Years to 1841: The Revolution in Geology [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972]. I conjecture that Darwin's decision not to incorporate the astronomical nebular hypothesis in his account of evolutionary processes reflects his close intellectual association with Lyell. The relevance of these last remarks will become more obvious later on, when I discuss Chambers'sVestiges.Google Scholar
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    It is also interesting to note that several of the entries in the D notebook immediately following August 12, 1838, deal with the past and future history of the universe. Thus p. 38: “with respect to future destinies of mankind” and p. 39: “with respect to the Deluge.”Google Scholar
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    Limoges inLa sèlèction naturelle has also noted the greater number of entries on artificial selection after August 1838. But care must be exercised, because the search for causes of variations in sexual reproduction is certainly another reason that Darwin was studying the breeders so intensely at this time. Similarly, it should again be stressed that the role of selection as perceived by Sebright is to act as nature's broom by removing inferior organisms and monstrosities.Google Scholar
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    Laplace, “Memoire sur la probabilité des causes pour les évènements”,Oeuvres complètes, VIII, 27–65; quoted in K. M. Baker,Condorcet: From Natural Philosophy to Social Mathematics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975).Google Scholar
  87. 87.
    Recall Darwin's recollection in theAutobiography of his reading Paley: “The logic of this book [Evidences of Christianity] and, I may add, all hisNatural Theology gave me as much delight as did Euclid. The careful study of these works ... was the only part of the academic course which as I felt then, and as I still believe, was of the least use to me in the education of my mind”.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
    Paley'sNatural Theology, with illustrative notes by Henry Lord Brougham and Sir Charles Bell, and “Supplementary Dissertations” by Sir Charles Bell and Charles Knight (London 1836).Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    There is a strong correlation between the articles which appeared in theEdinburgh Review between 1836 and 1840 and Darwin's reading at that time, as indicated by his M and N notebooks and the list “Books To Read” in the B notebook. It is likely (“Pure speculation, be careful.”!) that Darwin saw William Empson's lengthy review entitled “Life, Writings and Character of Mr. Malthus” in the January 1837 issue of theReview. It is also possible that Darwin first noticed Ehrenberg's work in David Brewster's review of Buckland'sBridgewater Treatise on Geology and Mineralogy, which appeared in theEdinburgh Review of April 1837.Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    See theDictionary of Scientific Biography, Dictionary of National Biography. See also Olson,Scottish Philosophy, and Orange, “The Origins of the British Association for the Advancement of Science”.Google Scholar
  91. 91.
    John and Charles Bell,The Anatomy and Physiology of the Human Body, 6th ed., 3 vols. (London 1826). This book is contained in the Charles Darwin Library, seeCatalogue of the Library of Charles Darwin now in the Botany School.Google Scholar
  92. 92.
    Howard E.Gruber and Paul H.Barrett,Darwin on Man: A Psychological Study of Scientific Creativity (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974), p. 39, relates that at the meeting of March 27, 1827, of the Plinian Society where Darwin presented his first scientific discoveries, Darwin was exposed to a materialist criticism of Sir Charles Bell'sAnatomy of Expression. The discussion which ensued was evidently very heated, for it was subsequently decided to strike from the record both the presentation and the subsequent discussions. According to Gruber, the meeting made a deep impression on the young Darwin.Google Scholar
  93. 93.
    Sir Charles Bell,The Bridgewater Treatises on the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God as Manifested in Creation; Treatise IV:The Hand, Its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evincing Design (London: Pickering, 1833).Google Scholar
  94. 94.
    Paley,Natural Theology, p. 80.Google Scholar
  95. 95.
    This statement is to be compared with the views expressed by Cournot. See in this connection the important and seminal article by C. C.Gillispie, “Intellectual Factors in the Background of Analysis by Probabilities” inScientific Change, ed. A. C.Crombie (New York: Basic Books, 1963).Google Scholar
  96. 96.
    The question relating to “the loss of species” raised by Bell had, of course, been on Darwin's mind for a long time and was central to his concerns by mid-June 1838 (see, e.g., D, pp. 21 and 37). Although these questions form an important part of the “long argument”, I will not consider them further here.Google Scholar
  97. 97.
    The “Essay” p. 242.Google Scholar
  98. 98.
    “Essay”, p. 253. In theBig Book, p. 245, the statement is as follows: “I believe there is no limit / 26u / to the number of species tending to be formed from the most favored forms in any country (or those which have any [sic] the greatest advantages over cohabitants except the number of species which the country is capable of supporting; but such modified descendants, or new species, after a long period will have to be ranked not in the same genera, but in distinct genera, families or orders”. See also p. 246 of theBig Book, where the statement is repeated.Google Scholar
  99. 99.
    “Infinitely complex” is a description which occurs often in Darwin's writing, particularly in theBig Book and in theOrigin. For example, on p. 80 of theOrigin: “Let it be borne in mind how infinitely complex and close-fitting are the mutual relations of all organic beings to each other and to their physical conditions of life”. This point is repeated on p. 127. See also Darwin's discussion of variability on p. 43 of theOrigin.Google Scholar
  100. 100.
    See, for example, M, pp. 27, 73. M, p. 72, reads: “With respect to free will, seeing a puppy playing cannot doubt that they have free will, if so all animals, then an oyster has & a polype (& a plant in some senses, perhaps, though from not having pain or pleasure, actions unavoidable & only to be changed by habits). Now free will of oyster, one can fancy to be direct effect or organization, by the capacities its senses give it of pain or pleasure. If so free will is to mind, what chance is to matter”. See also M, p. 74: “It may be doubted whether a man intentionally can wag his finger from real caprice. It is chance which way it will be, but yet it is settled by reason”.Google Scholar
  101. 101.
    In section 9, I clarify the other association of “Mr. le Comte one of philosophy” in the present context.Google Scholar
  102. 102.
    The addendum was probably addedafter Sept. 6, 1838, the date OUN, p. 25, bears. OUN, p. 27, written between Sept. 6 and Oct. 2, concerns itself with the punishment of criminals and the necessity of disease, matters discussed in the Quetelet review.Google Scholar
  103. 103.
    See the letter Darwin wrote to Lyell in 1861, which is quoted in the last paragraph of section 9. In 1866, Darwin wrote “Your last question seems to resolve itself into the problem of free will and necessity, which has been found by most persons insoluble” (Life and Letters, I, 247). In 1873 Maxwell discussed the problem before an informal group at Cambridge in a lecture entitled: “Does the Progress of Physical Science Tend to Give Any Advantage to the Opinion of Necessity (or Determinism) over That of the Contingency of Events and the Freedom of the Will?” See Lewis Campbell and William Garnett,The Life of James Clerk Maxwell (London, 1882; reprinted with additions New York, 1969), p. 434. 434.Google Scholar
  104. 104.
    C, p. 223, dated July 1838, has the entry “I will never allow that because there is a chasm between man... and animals that man has different origin.”Google Scholar
  105. 105.
    Edmund Burke,A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, part I, sect. XIV, “The Effects of Sympathy in the Distresses of Others.”Google Scholar
  106. 106.
    Note the stress on looking “far forward” and “far back,” a point made in the Comte review.Google Scholar
  107. 107.
    Herbert, “Darwin, Malthus and Selection.” Darwin's shift from species to individuals was first pointed out and stressed by Ghiselin in 1969 in hisTriumph of the Darwinian Method.Google Scholar
  108. 108.
    H. Høffding, in his perceptive essay “The Influence of the Conception of Evolution on Modern Philosophy,” written in commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of theOrigin of Species and published inDarwin and Modern Science, ed. A. C. Seward (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909), places Darwin “in the school that was founded by Schaftsbury and afterwards represented by Hutcheson, Hume and Adam Smith.” This attribution is, however, based primarily on Darwin's moral philosophy as expressed in theDescent. Marx and Engels's statement that classical economics influenced Darwin, based on the resemblance of the theory of evolution to the laissez-faire economics of the capitalist marketplace, is the starting point of a large literature (see for example, Bertrand Russell,Religion and Science [London: Oxford University Press, 1935], pp. 72–73. An extensive bibliography on these matters may be found in Ashley Montagu,Darwin, Competition, and Cooperation (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1973). All these matters are discussed in the important and stimulating books by Ghiselin:The Triumph of the Darwinian Method andThe Economy of Nature and the Evolution of Sex (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974). I find that many of the statements that Ghiselin makes inThe Triumph are borne out by the evidence of Darwin's original documents. There is one other strand which relates Adam Smith to Darwin. Gruber in the introduction ofDarwin on Man, p. 13, points to the importance of the development of “self-regulating machinery” and “the concept of society as a self-regulating system,” which became “prominent in the work of Adam Smith and others”; see Otto Mayr,The Origins of Feedback Control (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1970). Charles Lyell in the eleventh edition of hisPrinciples of Geology which appeared in 1872, commented that “when first the doctrine of the origin of species by transmutation was proposed, it was objected that such a theory substituted a material self-adjusting machinery for a Supreme Creative Intelligence.” This view probably reflected his reading of A. R. Wallace's article “On the Tendency of Varieties To Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type,”J. Proc. Linn. Soc., August 1858, which states that “the action of this principle is exactly like that of the centrifugal governor of the steam engine.” Recall that in the 1830's Lyell had regarded the earth as a self-regulating geological machine.Google Scholar
  109. 109.
    Thus Adam Ferguson writes inAn Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), “the forms of society are derived form an obscure and distant origin; they arise... from the instincts, not from the speculations of man... Nations stumble upon establishments which are indeed the result of human action but not the result of human design.” See Adam Ferguson LL.D.,An Essay on the History of Civil Society, ed. DuncanForbes (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1966); on p. xxiii of the introduction Forbes says, “all Scottish ‘philosophical’ historians shared certain characteristic views... Thus it was generally agreed that the progress of society is a spontaneous process... that it is largely the unlooked-for by-product of men willing and planning other things.” Josiah Tucker in hisElements of Commerce (1756), reprinted inJosiah Tucker: A Selection from his Economic and Political Writings, ed. R.L. Schuyler (New York; 1931), p. 92, writes, “The proper design of this chapter is to show that the universal mover in human nature, self love, may receive such a direction in this case (as in all others) as to promote the public interest by those efforts it shall make towards pursuing its own.” Adam Smith's well-known statement in theWealth of Nations, ed. Cannan, I. 421, is the following: “By directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.” See Albert Schatz,L'individualism economique et social (Paris, 1907); Glady Bryson,Man and Society: The Scottish Inquiry of the Eighteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949); Davie,The Democratic Intellect; and Olson,Scottish Philosophy.Google Scholar
  110. 110.
    A. W.Benn,History of English Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century, 2 vols. (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1906), I, 209. See also Elie Halevy,The Growth of Philosophical Radicalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955), pp. 266–277.Google Scholar
  111. 111.
    Ruse and Mayr have both emphasized this point: Ruse, “Charles Darwin and Artificial Selection”; Mayr, “Evolution through Natural Selection.”Google Scholar
  112. 112.
    See Shiselin,The Triumph of the Darwinian Method, and Mayr's Introduction to Darwin'sOrigin.Google Scholar
  113. 113.
    There is by now a large literature on Adam Smith. Jacob Viner's essay “Adam Smith and Laissez-Faire” in hisThe Long View and the Short: Studies in Economic Theory and Policy (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1958), is an enlightening introduction. See also Glenn Morrow, ed.,The Ethical and Economic Theories of Adam Smith, reprinted from the first edition of 1923 (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1969); A. L. Macfie,The Individual in Society: Papers on Adam Smith (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1967). A recent attempt to resolve “Das Adam Smith Problem” is given in Robert B. Lamb's article inJ. Hist. Ideas, 35 (1974), 671–682.Google Scholar
  114. 114.
    See, e.g., the concluding paragraph in chap. III of theOrigin; see also theAutobiography, p. 88.Google Scholar
  115. 115.
    That Darwin was looking at Quetelet is quoted in Howard E.Gruber and Paul H.Barrett,Darwin on Man: A Psychological Study of Scientific Creativity (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974), p. 170.Google Scholar
  116. 116.
    TheAthenaeum chronicled the meeting of all the scientific societies in England: the Astronomical, Botanical, Geological, Geographical Statistical Society, Meteorological Society, the BAAS, the Royal Society, etc. The often very extensive reports of these meetings were made by influential members of the societies concerned: Airy, Herschel, Lyell, Sedwick, Playfair, Russell, Lindley, de Morgan, Bucher, among others. See Leslie A.Marchand,The Athenaeum: A Mirror of Victorian Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1941).Google Scholar
  117. 117.
    The books are now in the library at Down House. They contain no annotations. I thank Mr. Titheradge, the curator at Down House, for communicating this fact to me.Google Scholar
  118. 118.
    There is no modern biography of Quetelet. As with most matters dealing with the history of science in the nineteenth century, an enlightening discussion is to be found in J. T.Merz,A History of European Scientific Thought in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Dover Publications, 1965), II, 563 ff. J. Lottin,Quetelet, statisticien et sociologue (Paris, 1912), is the most complete biography to date. Biographical material may be found in the article by David Landau and Paul F. Lazarfeld on Quetelet in theEncyclopedia of the Social Sciences. This article also contains a useful supplementary bibliography which is a good starting point for further studies of Quetelet. The most complete bibliography on Quetelet to 1966 is in Liliane Wellens-de Donder, “Inventaire de la correspondence d'Adolphe Quetelet deposée à l'Academie Royale de Belgique,”Memoires de l'Academie Royale de Belgique, Classe des Sciences, 37, no. 2 (1966). See also P. Lazarfeld,Quantification in Sociology inQuantification: A History of the Meaning of Measurement in the Natural and Social Sciences, ed. Harry Woolf (Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1961; Victor Lowell Hilts, “Statist and Statistician: Three Studies in the History of Nineteenth Century Statistical Thought,” Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1967; and Hilts, “Statistics and Social Science,” in Giere and Westfall, eds.,Foundations of Scientific Method. See also the informative contribution of Marion Patricia Johnson, “The Origins of Adolphe Quetelet's Social Physics,” unpub. senior thesis in the Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, 1976.Google Scholar
  119. 119.
    Michael J.Cullen,The Statistical Movement in Early Victorian Britain: The Foundations of Empirical Social Research, (Sussex: Harvester Press, 1975), chap. 6. See also theAnnals of the Royal Statistical Society, 1834–1934, The Royal Statistical Society, 1934); John Koren, ed.,The History of Statistics: Their Development and Progress in Many Countries (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970); Harold Westergaard,Contributions to the History of Statistics, (London: P. S. King and Sons, 1932), particularly chap. 13: “The Era of Enthusiasm, 1830 to 1849.”Google Scholar
  120. 120.
    The inventory by Wellen-de Donder lists over 2700 letters from scientific correspondents.Google Scholar
  121. 121.
    The inventory of Wellens-de Donder lists 7 letters from Babbage dating from 1826 to 1838. From 1832 to 1838 there are 4 letters listed from Airy, 6 from Whewell, and 7 from Nassau Senior.Google Scholar
  122. 122.
    See the Prospectus of April 23, 1834, of the Statistical Society, published inThe Annals of the Royal Statistical Society, 1834–1934. The ideas of interrogatories was adopted at the July 1836 meeting of the Society.Google Scholar
  123. 123.
    CharlesBabbage,Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (London: Longman, 1864); Philip Morrison and Emily Morrison, eds.,Charles Babbage and his Calculating Engines (New York: Dover Publications, 1961); Maboth Moseley,Irascible Genius: A Life of Charles Babbage, Inventor (London: Hutchinson, 1964).Google Scholar
  124. 124.
    NoraBarlow, ed.,The Autobiography of Charles Darwin (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1958), p. 108. Darwin was reading Babbage'sNinth Bridgewater Treatise on December 2 or 3, 1838, and it is there that he came across Herschel's statement calling the appearance of new species “the mystery of mysteries”; E, p. 59. He probably had seen the statement earlier in Herschel's letter to Lyell, which was printed inProc. Geo. Soc. London, 2 (1834–37).Google Scholar
  125. 125.
    Undated letter of C. Darwin to C. Babbage, quoted in Moseley,Irascible Genius. p. 235. Also, in the already quoted letter of September, 13, 1838, that Darwin wrote to Lyell, he speaks of Babbage in a way indicating that the knows him: “I have been much amused with an account I have received of the wars of Don Roderick (Murchinson) and Babbage. What a grievous pity it is that the latter should be so implacable.” The account Darwin refers to is of the 1838 meeting of the BAAS. In a letter to his sister Caroline dated February 27, 1837, Darwin wrote that Lyell wanted him to be present “for a party at Mr. Babbage, who sent me a card for his parties this season. Lyell says Babbage's parties are the best in the way of literary people in London-and there is a good mixture of pretty women.”Google Scholar
  126. 126.
    R. B.Freeman and P. J.Gautrey, “Darwin'sQuestions about the Breeding of Animals, with a note on Queries about Expression,”J. Soc. Bibliog. Nat. Hist., 5 (1969), 220–225.Google Scholar
  127. 127.
    Howard E.Gruber and Paul H.Barrett,Darwin on Man: A Psychological Study of Scientific Creativity (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974), pp. 423 ff.Google Scholar
  128. 128.
    Quetelet had been sent to Paris by Falck, the Dutch minister of education, to study astronomical instrumentation because he had become very much involved in plans to build an astronomical observatory near Brussels. The Ècole Polytechnique became his intellectual center of gravity, and his Paris stay of 1823–24 is the starting point of his subsequent intellectual career. See Johnson, “The Origins of Adolphe Quetelet's Social Physics.” See also Lottin,Quetelet, p. 153, for the possible influence of Saint-Simon and Comte on Quetelet.Google Scholar
  129. 129.
    Roughly speaking, Bernouilli's theorem states that an event which occurs with a probabilityp will appearpN times inN trials; i.e., it will appear with a frequencypN/N=p, as the number of trials in increased indefinitely. Bernouilli's theorem could thus be construed as giving a mathematical reason for the existence of statistical regularity whenever there seemed a “constant cause” in operation.Google Scholar
  130. 130.
    Roger Hahn,Actes XIIIe Congr. Int. Hist. Sci; Baker,Concordet.Google Scholar
  131. 131.
    My quotations are from the English translation ofSur l'homme, which was published with a new introduction by Quetelet in 1842 by the Chambers brothers of Edinburgh:A Treatise on Man and the Development of His Faculties. This edition is available as a reissue from Burt Franklin Publisher, New York, 1968. R. Chambers is, of course, the author ofVestiges of Creation. The influence of Quetelet on that work has been noted by Milton Millhauser,Just before Darwin: Robert Chambers and “Vestiges”, (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1959).Google Scholar
  132. 132.
    In chap. I of book I, which discusses “of births in general, and of fecundity,” Quetelet quotes Malthus's observations regarding the ratio of births to marriage taken as a measure of fecundity.Google Scholar
  133. 133.
    Quetelet,A Treatise on Man, p. 2.Google Scholar
  134. 134.
    The footnote on p. 48 in Quetelet's original text gives the reference to Malthus's French edition. It also calls attention to Nassau Senior'sTwo Lectures on Population and McCulloch's notes on Smith'sWealth of Nations.Google Scholar
  135. 135.
    On October 30, 1838, Darwin records the following dream on p. 33 of the N notebook: “Dreamt somebody gave me a book in French. I read the first page & pronounced each word distinctly. Woke instantly but could not gather general sense of this page.-Now when awake I could not picture to myself reading French book quickly, & running over imaginary words: it appears ‖ as if the mind had dwelt on each word separately, neglecting time, & general sense, any more than connected with general tendency of the dream”.Google Scholar
  136. 136.
    I conjecture that the review was written by George Richardson Porter (1792–1852), who at that time was the head of the statistical department of the Board of Trade. He was also one of the promoters of the Royal Statistical Society and of Section F of the BAAS. Several comments in the review, particularly the footnote deploring the fact that in England “so many institutions tend powerfully to promote the concentration of promotion of property into a few hands, “indicate that the reviewer held liberal views. Porter would fit that bill. Porter also had extensive correspondence with Quetelet during this period. He was at that time writing his very influentialProgress of The Nation in Its Various Social and Economical Relations from the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century to the Present Time, the first volume of which appeared in London in 1836. He was therefore in total command of all the materials found in Quetelet's book.Google Scholar
  137. 137.
    The review is particularly valuable in giving some fine insights into the “atmospherics” of the statistical movement during the 1830's in Great Britain. The concerns which animate the statisticians (the relations between social conditions and health, mortality, crime, education, etc., and the prerequisites for the amelioration of the society) are clearly apparent in capsule form. The reviewer has not yet recovered from the shock created within the British statistical community by Gerry's heresy in 1833. See Cullen,The Statistical Movement in Early Victorian Britain.Google Scholar
  138. 138.
    More Letters, letter to A. R. Wallace, April 1859, p. 118.Google Scholar
  139. 139.
    GavindeBeer,Charles Darwin: Evolution by Natural Selection (New York: Doubleday, 1964), pp. 98–108.Google Scholar
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    C.C. Gillespie, private communication. Incidentally, Darwin had also come across the Malthusian statement in 1833 in A. von Humboldt'sPolitical Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain (New York: I. Riley, 1811) which he got in Buenos Aires when theBeagle anchored there.Google Scholar
  141. 141.
    On September 21, Darwin records the following dream in his M notebook, pp. 143–144: “Was witty in a dream in a confused manner. Thought that a person was hung & come to life, & then made many jokes about not having run away & having faced death like a hero.” Gruber, inDarwin on Man, p.43, interprets this dream of execution of a witty man “as Darwin dreaming of himself being punished for his ideas.” I would suggest that it also indicates that his ideas, although still somewhat “confused,” clearly reflected an apprehension of a coherent whole. In other words, by September 21 Darwin had appreciated the Malthusian principle and its eventual place in his theory.Google Scholar
  142. 142.
    Limoges,La sèlection naturelle, p. 79.Google Scholar
  143. 143.
    Quetelet,A Treatise on Man, p. 49. The statement in the Quetelet review, quoted above, also emphasized the role of mortality in stabilizing the population. Interestingly, Wallace in 1858, in his paper “On the Tendency of Varieties To Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type”, likewise indicates that “The action of this principle is exactly like that of a centrifugal governor of the steam engine, which checks and corrects any irregularities almost before they become evident; and in like manner no unbalanced deficiency in the animal kingdom can ever reach any conspicuous magnitude, because it would make itself felt at the very first step, by rendering existence difficult and extinction almost sure soon to follow.” In other words, the principle guarantees the stability of the process. This Wallace article is reprinted in A. R. Wallace,Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection: A Series of Essays (New York: Macmillan, 1870).Google Scholar
  144. 144.
    In the “Essay” of 1844, in Darwin's discussion of natural selection, there occurs the following pregnant phrase on p. 46: “Malthus on man- in animals no moral [check] restraint - they breed in time of year when provision most abundant, or season most favourable every country has its season - calculate robins - oscillating from years of destruction.”Google Scholar
  145. 145.
    Recall that inside the front cover of the D notebook, Darwin entered the statement: “Towards close I first thought of selection owing to struggle.”Google Scholar
  146. 146.
    Limoges,La sèlection naturelle. P. vorzimmer, “Darwin, Malthus, and the Theory of Natural Selection,”J. Hist. Ideas, 30 (1969), 527–542. See also de Beer,Charles Darwin, and Eiseley,Darwin's Century. The more recent articles on the Malthusian question have been discussed in Greene. Previous notable work includes F. N. Egerton, “Studies in Animal Populations from Lamark to Darwin,”J. Hist. Biol., 1 (1968). 225–259; Herbert, “Darwin, Malthus and Selection”; Ghiselin,The Triumph of the Darwinian Method; R. M. Young, “Malthus and the Evolutionists: The Common Context of Biological and Social Theory,”Past and Present, 43 (1969) 109–145; Michael Ruse, “The Nature of Scientific Models: Formal vs. Material Analogies,”Phil. Social Sci., 3 (1973), 63–80; and Ruse, “Charles Darwin and Artificial Selection.”Google Scholar
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    Cf. Vorzimmer, “Darwin, Malthus,” and Ghiselin,The Triumph of the Darwinian Method. A similar conclusion based on Herschel's influence was reached by Ruse, “Darwin's Debt to Philosophy.”Studies in Hist. Phil. Science, 6 (1975), 159–181. I came across this article after completing this paper. Interestingly, Ruse comments in his note 51 “that in August 38 Darwin read with avid interest a review by Sir David Brewster of Comte'sCours de Philosophie Positive.” What he would have got from this is that the aim of a science is the positive stage, that the fundamental character ofPositive Philosophy is to regard all phenomena as subjected to invariable natural laws” (p. 281) and that “the best of all laws is the Newtonian law of gravitational attraction” (p. 282).Google Scholar
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    “Essay” of 1844, p. 118.Google Scholar
  149. 149.
    Origin, p. 67.Google Scholar
  150. 150.
    CharlesDarwin,Natural Selection: Being the Second Part of His Big Species Book, ed. R. C.Stauffer (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1975) p. 128.Google Scholar
  151. 151.
    Kohn, “Charles Darwin's Path to Natural Selection.”Google Scholar
  152. 152.
    “Billin” should probably have been trascribed as “Billion.”Google Scholar
  153. 153.
    Kohn, “Charles Darwin's Path to Natural Selection,” chaps. 3, 5.Google Scholar
  154. 154.
    The Golden Pippin was a variety of apple tree introduced in England from France in the seventeenth century; it was maintained by grafting rather than sexual crossing until the beginning of the nineteenth century, when it became extinct.Google Scholar
  155. 155.
    The use of the fossil record to set up aquantitative geological chronometer is discussed at length in vol. III of Lyell'sPrinciples of Geology. For Lyell the working of this chronometer depended crucially on his belief that over the past there was an essentially uniform rate of change in the organic world. Based on this, Lyell suggested that quantitative estimates of the relative ages of any two deposits could be obtained by comparing the proportion of extinct to extant species in each. See M. J. S.Rudnick, “The Strategy of Lyell'sPrinciples of Geology,”Isis, 61 (1970), 5–33.Google Scholar
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    See part II of the “Sketch” of 1842, particularly sect. V on extermination; chap. V of the “Essay” of 1844; and chaps. IX and X of theOrigin.Google Scholar
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    Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Introduction.Google Scholar
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    See Huxley's discussion of chance in chap. XIV, “On the Reception of theOrigin of Species,” inLife and Letters, p. 552.Google Scholar
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    Origin, p. 74.Google Scholar
  160. 160.
    There are of course many other quantitative, predictive, deterministic statements in both the “Essay” and theOrigin, for example, the discussion of the relation of variation to the number of species and the size of genus they belong to. This question was already on Darwin's mind on December 2, 1838. E, p. 59 records the following: “Lyell letter Mr. Beck considers the characteristics of the Tropical Forms in shells are numerous species, numerous individuals &species oflarge size-consider this (cetacea) with reference to my theory.” The quoted passage is, to the best of my knowledge, the one which most succinctly and beautifully expresses the relationship between the deterministic, the quantitative, and the predictive aspects of the theory.Google Scholar
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    E, p. 58, has the famous entry: “Three principles will account for all 1) Grandchildren like grandfathérs 2) Tendency to small change especially with physical change 3) Great fertility in proportion to support of parent∣” The entry on p. 59 is dated December 2.Google Scholar
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    NoraBarlow, ed.,The Autobiography of Charles Darwin (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1958), p. 85.Google Scholar
  163. 163.
    Nora Barlow delineates the period from October 1836 to January 1839. I would characterize the time span as ranging from July 1837 to July 1839. Some of the OUN notebooks dealing with Mackintosh'sEthical Philosophy, “On the Moral Sense” [OUN, pp. 42–48], and with Whewell's discussion of conscience in his preface to theHistory of the Inductive Sciences are dated May 1839. The months of September and October 1838 seemed to have been crucial. Thus, Darwin's “Journal” for September 1838 records that: “All September read a good deal on many subjects, thought much upon religion. Beginning of October ditto.”Google Scholar
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    NoraBarlow, ed.,The Autobiography of Charles Darwin (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1958), p. 86.Google Scholar
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    NoraBarlow, ed.,The Autobiography of Charles Darwin (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1958), p. 89.Google Scholar
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    EdmundBurke,The Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke, 7th ed., 12 vols. (Boston: Little Brown, 1881), I:A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvan S. Schweber
    • 1
  1. 1.Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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