The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin – Day 95 of 188


[The record of work includes his volume on ‘Coral Reefs’ (A notice of the Coral Reef work appeared in the Geograph. Soc. Journal, xii., page 115.), the manuscript of which was at last sent to the printers in January of this year, and the last proof corrected in May. He thus writes of the work in his diary:–

“I commenced this work three years and seven months ago. Out of this period about twenty months (besides work during “Beagle’s” voyage) has been spent on it, and besides it, I have only compiled the Bird part of Zoology; Appendix to Journal, paper on Boulders, and corrected papers on Glen Roy and earthquakes, reading on species, and rest all lost by illness.”

In May and June he was at Shrewsbury and Maer, whence he went on to make the little tour in Wales, of which he spoke in his ‘Recollections,’ and of which the results were published as “Notes on the effects produced by the ancient glaciers of Caernarvonshire, and on the Boulders transported by floating Ice.” (‘Philosophical Magazine,’ 1842, page 352.)

Mr. Archibald Geikie speaks of this paper as standing “almost at the top of the long list of English contributions to the history of the Ice Age.” Charles Darwin, ‘Nature’ Series, page 23.)

The latter part of this year belongs to the period including the settlement at Down, and is therefore dealt with in another chapter.]

Chapter 1.VIII. Religion.

[The history of this part of my father’s life may justly include some mention of his religious views. For although, as he points out, he did not give continuous systematic thought to religious questions, yet we know from his own words that about this time (1836-39) the subject was much before his mind.

In his published works he was reticent on the matter of religion, and what he has left on the subject was not written with a view to publication. (As an exception may be mentioned, a few words of concurrence with Dr. Abbot’s ‘Truths for the Times,’ which my father allowed to be published in the “Index”.)

I believe that his reticence arose from several causes. He felt strongly that a man’s religion is an essentially private matter, and one concerning himself alone. This is indicated by the following extract from a letter of 1879:–(Addressed to Mr. J. Fordyce, and published by him in his ‘Aspects of Scepticism,’ 1883.)

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