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Charles Darwin and the scientific mind

  • DAVID STACK (a1)
Abstract

Although often presented as an essential, ahistorical or innate psychological entity, the notion of a ‘scientific mind’ is ripe for historical analysis. The growing historical interest in the self-fashioning of masculine identities, and more particularly the self-fashioning of the nineteenth-century scientist, has opened up a space in which to probe what was understood by someone being said to possess a ‘scientific mind’. This task is made all the more urgent by the recently revived interest of some psychologists in the concept and the highly gendered and culturally conditioned understanding of the scientific mind displayed in some contemporary debates. This article contributes to that task, and fills a rare gap in Darwin studies by making the first detailed exploration of Charles Darwin's understanding of the scientific mind, as revealed in the psychological self-analysis he undertook in his ‘Recollections of the development of my mind and character’ (1876), and supplemented in his Life of Erasmus Darwin (1879). Drawing upon a broad range of Darwin's published and unpublished works, this article argues that Darwin's understanding of the scientific mind was rooted in his earliest notebooks, and was far more central to his thought than is usually acknowledged. The article further delineates the differences between Darwin's understanding and that of his half-cousin Francis Galton, situates his understanding in relation to his reading of William Whewell and Auguste Comte, and considers what Darwin's view of the scientific mind tells us about his perspective on questions of religion and gender. Throughout, the article seeks to show that the ‘scientific mind’ is always an agglomeration of historically specific prejudices and presumptions, and concludes that this study of Darwin points to the need for a similarly historical approach to the question of the scientific mind today.

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Footnotes
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I would like to thank the editor and my two anonymous referees for their comments on a previous draft of this article.

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References
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1 Sullivan, J.W.N., ‘The scientific mind’, in Saidla, L.E. and Gibbs, W.E., Science and the Scientific Mind, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1930, pp. 115127, 115. This chapter was reprinted from Sullivan's own Aspects of Science, New York, 1925. See Shapin, S., The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008, especially Chapters 2 and 3.

2 ‘Editorial Notes’, Women's Signal, 20 September 1894, p. 367.

3 For an early use of the term see The Lady's Monthly Museum, 1 December 1803, p. 182.

5 Chaplin, J.E. and McMahon, D.M. (eds.), Genealogies of Genius, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, p. 1, original emphasis; Chaplin, J.E., The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius, New York: Basic Books, 2006, p. 2.

6 Feist, G.J., The Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific Mind, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006, pp. 34, 155.

7 The Darwinian paradigm is very appealing for those making deterministic claims. See, for example, Sulloway, Frank J., Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives, New York: Penguin Random House, 1996. Feist, op. cit. (6), pp. 15, 80, 84.

8 The most important early studies of Victorian masculinity said very little about science. See, for example, Tosh, J., A Man's Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999; and Adams, J. Eli, Dandies and Desert Saints: Styles of Victorian Masculinity, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995.

9 Barton, R., ‘“Men of science”: language, identity and professionalisation in the mid-Victorian scientific community’, History of Science (2003) 41, pp. 75119; Daston, L.J. and Galison, P., Objectivity, Cambridge, MA: Zone Books, 2010; Ellis, H., Masculinity and Science in Britain, 1831–1918, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2017; Golinski, J., ‘Humphry Davy's sexual chemistry’, Configurations (1999) 7, pp. 1841.

10 The term ‘scientific mind’ overlaps in some ways with Barton's characterization of ‘philosophers of science’. See Barton, op. cit. (9), p. 110.

11 Endersby, J., ‘Escaping Darwin's shadow’, History of Biology (2003) 3, pp. 385403.

12 White, P., ‘Darwin's emotions: the scientific self and the sentiment of objectivity’, Isis (2009) 100, pp. 811826. Harley, A., Autobiologies: Charles Darwin and the Natural History of the Self, Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2015, p. xi.

13 Darwin, Charles, ‘Recollections of the development of my mind and character’, in Neve, M. and Messenger, S. (eds.), Charles Darwin: Autobiographies, London: Penguin, 2002, pp. 6, 72. As well as writing consistently for over two months, Darwin returned to the text, with corrections and additions, most notably in 1879.

14 ‘Scientists’, as Sleigh put it, ‘are textually constructed entities’. Sleigh, C., ‘Writing the scientific self: Samuel Butler and Charles Hay Fort’, Journal of Literature and Science (2015) 8, pp. 1735, 19.

15 Darwin, F. (ed.), The life and letters of Charles Darwin, Including an Autobiographical Chapter, 3 vols., London: John Murray, 1887.

16 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 6.

17 For the first unabridged version of this text see Darwin, Charles, The Life of Erasmus Darwin, King-Hele, Desmond edn, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

18 J. Browne, review of Charles Darwin's The Life of Erasmus Darwin by King-Hele, Desmond, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London (2003) 57, pp. 346348. As Browne notes (p. 346), ‘few scholars have until now taken much account of the remarkable fascination that must surely accompany Charles Darwin's assessment of his grandfather’.

19 Kuhn, B., Autobiography and Natural Science in the Age of Romanticism: Rousseau, Goethe, Thoreau, Farnham: Ashgate, 2009, pp. 12

20 Kuhn, op. cit. (19), p. 7. See also Marcus, L., Auto/biographical Discourses: Theory, Criticism, Practice, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994.

21 Sleigh, op. cit. (14), p. 19; M. Shortland and Yeo, R., ‘Introduction’ in Shortland and Yeo (eds.), Telling Lives in Science: Essays on Scientific Biography, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 144, 4.

22 Babbage, C., Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, London: Longman, 1864, pp. viiviii, 485.

23 Shumaker, W., English Autobiography: Its Emergence, Materials and Form, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1954, p. 90.

24 Spencer, H., An Autobiography, 2 vols., New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1904, vol. 1, p. vii. The autobiography that appears to have been most heavily influenced by Darwin, in its consideration of the subject's mental development, was Wallace's, Alfred Russel My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions, 2 vols., London: Chapman and Hall, 1905.

25 This was then doubled in length by the insertion of the lengthy addendum on scepticism in 1879. See below.

26 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 86.

27 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 6.

28 Levine, G., Dying to Know: Scientific Epistemology and Narrative in Victorian England, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002, pp. 9394; Colp, R., ‘Notes on Charles Darwin's “Autobiography”’, Journal of the History of Biology (1985) 18, pp. 357401, 400. See also Schmitt, C., Darwin and the Memory of the Human: Evolution, Savages, and South America, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 36.

29 Levine, op. cit. (28), p. 2.

30 ‘Throughout his life, for deep psychological reasons, Darwin found it necessary to depreciate his abilities and to project himself as a slow worker of moderate abilities’. Schweber, S.S., ‘The genesis of natural selection – 1838: some further insights’, Bioscience (1978) 28, pp. 321326.

31 Sleigh, op. cit. (14), p. 19.

32 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 85.

33 It is not quite correct to claim, as Helsinger did, that Darwin did not share the mid-Victorian concern with honesty in autobiography. Helsinger, H., ‘Credence and credibility: the concern for honesty in Victorian autobiography’, in Landow, G.P. (ed.), Approaches to Victorian Autobiography, Athens: Ohio University Press, 1979, pp. 3963, 50.

34 Comte, A., Introduction to Positive Philosophy, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1988, p. 21.

35 Maudlsey, H., Physiology and Pathology of Mind, London: Macmillan and Co., 1867, p. 44. In the three years he spent preparing to write Descent Darwin read widely, including Maudsley's Physiology and Pathology of Mind, and was impressed sufficiently to engage the young psychiatrist in correspondence. Darwin was even more taken with Maudsley's next book, Body and Mind (1870), which he read as part of his preparation for Expressions of the Emotions in Men and Animals (1872).

36 Comte, op. cit. (34), p. 21.

37 Lewes, G.H., The Study of Psychology: Its Object, Scope and Method, London: Trubner and Company, 1879, p. 82. Lewes was explicitly critical of Comte on this point (p. 89): ‘The fact is that the mind does observe its operations and precisely in the same way that it observes any other operations. Because they are felt and re-felt under varying conditions, and are capable of being discriminated, classified, generalized, and experimentally modified, they are data for scientific constructions’.

38 ‘The mind cannot grasp the full meaning of the term of a million or hundred million years, and cannot consequently add up and perceive the full effects of small successive variations accumulated during almost infinitely many generations’. Darwin, Charles, ‘Essay of 1844’, in Darwin, F. (ed.), The Foundations of the Origin of Species: Two Essays Written in 1842 and 1844, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909, pp. 248249.

39 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 54.

40 We should not be misled by his claim that he undertook the ‘Recollections’ in the expectation it ‘would amuse me’. Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 6. Darwin's greatest intellectual breakthrough was the result of reading Malthus ‘for amusement’ – and writing the ‘Recollections’ was no frivolous undertaking. As well as writing consistently for over two months, Darwin returned to the text in 1879 to supplement the text with two lengthy addenda.

41 Comte, op. cit. (34), p. 1. See Lubbock, J., Pre-historic Times, as Illustrated by Ancient Remains, and the Manners and Customs of Modern Savages, London: Williams and Norgate, 1865. Darwin praised Haeckel's Générale morphologie (1866) and his Natürliche Schopfungsgeschichte (1868) in the introduction to the Descent. Darwin, Charles, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2 vols., London: John Murray, vol. 1, p. 4.

42 Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 43–44.

43 Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 78–79.

44 This was pursued most obviously in Descent and Expression, but also, to some extent, in later works such as Insectivorous Plants (1875), The Power of Movement in Plants (1880) and even The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms, with Observations on Their Habits (1881). This final work included a thirty-two-page section beginning with ‘Intelligence shewn by worms in their manner of plugging up their burrows’, and shows that worms ‘possess some elegance of intelligence’. Darwin, Charles, Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms, London: John Murray, 1881, pp. 9293.

45 Darwin, op. cit. (41), vol. 1, p. 106.

46 Charles Darwin, ‘An autobiographical fragment. Life. Written August – 1838’, in Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 1–5. See also Colp, R., ‘“I was born a naturalist”: Charles Darwin's 1838 notes about himself’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences (1980) 35, pp. 839.

47 Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 32, 36, 22.

48 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 20.

49 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 88. In the Descent of Man, Darwin had argued that science benefited from a group of men ‘who have not to labour for their daily bread’. Darwin, op. cit. (41), vol. 1, pp. 169–170.

50 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 88.

51 Maudlsey, op. cit. (35), p. 45.

52 Maudsley, op. cit. (35), pp. 131–134.

53 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 43.

54 von Humboldt, A., Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent during the Years 1799–1804, London: Longman, 1814, pp. xlvii, 273.

55 A. von Humboldt to Charles Darwin, 18 September 1839, DCP-LET-534

56 For example, Charles Darwin to R. Patterson, 12 November 1857, DCP-LETT-2168; Charles Darwin to G.W. Child, 6 May 1868, DCP-LETT-6162; Charles Darwin to A. Reuter, 2 June 1869, DCP-LETT-6772.

57 Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 69, 85. Babbage also compared his mind to a machine, but without Darwin's apprehension that this might be a negative. Babbage, op. cit. (22), p. 59.

58 Charles Darwin to W.B. Tegetmeier, 20 June 1862, DCP-LETT-3612.

59 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 66. Late in life Leonard Darwin claimed to remember ‘the visits of Carlyle to Charles Darwin, when the latter awaited none too anxiously “the crotchety old grouch”’. Griggs, L., ‘A scholar goes visiting’, Quarterly Review: A Journal of University Perspectives (1934) 40–41, pp. 408415, 411.

60 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 19.

61 Goodmam, M., ‘Nature vs. naturalist: paths diverging and converging in Edmund Gosse's Father and Son’, Life Writing (2014) 11, pp. 85101, 86. On Darwin's ‘rebellion’ against his father see Krenis, L., ‘Authority and rebellion in Victorian autobiography’, Journal of British Studies (1978) 18, pp. 107130.

62 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 14. On Robert Darwin see R. Bates Graber and L. Pettengill Miles, ‘In defence of Darwin's father’, History of Science (1989) 27, pp. 97–102.

63 Maudsley, op. cit. (35), pp. 133–134.

64 Although, as Harley, op. cit. (12), p. 31, notes, it is telling that Darwin manages a reference to Erasmus Darwin in the second sentence of the ‘Recollections’.

65 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 19. Darwin did not reach the same conclusion about any of his daughters, although a similar certainty that untutored childhood traits prefigured adult interests is evident in his heartfelt reminiscence of his ‘favourite daughter’, Annie: ‘one singular habit, which, I presume would ultimately have turned into some pursuit; namely a strong pleasure in looking out words or names in dictionaries, directories, gazeteers, & in this latter case finding out the places in the Map’. Charles Darwin, ‘Our poor child, Annie’ (Darwin's reminiscence of Anne Elizabeth Darwin) (30 April 1851), CUL-DAR 210.13.40.

66 Darwin, op. cit. (17), pp. 16, 59–60.

67 Darwin, op. cit. (17), pp. 11–12.

68 See especially Herbert, S., ‘The place of man in the development of Darwin's theory of transmutation, Part I: to July 1837’, Journal of the History of Biology (1974) 7, pp. 217258. Darwin himself used the phrase ‘mental rioting’ to refer to some of his own unformulated thoughts in a letter to Hooker (‘I did not consider my letter as reasoning, or even as speculation, but simply as mental rioting’), but later historians have used it to refer to his extraordinary production of ideas in his notebooks in 1838. See Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker, 6 May 1847, DCP-LETT-1086.

69 ‘These two years and three months [2 October 1836–29 January 1839] were the most active ones which I ever spent, though I was occasionally unwell and so lost some time’. Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 47.

70 ‘My theory would give zest to recent & fossil Comparative Anatomy, it would lead to study of instincts, heredity & mind heredity, whole metaphysics’. Charles Darwin, Notebook B (transmutation of species (1837–1838)), CUL-DAR121, p. 228.

71 Even at this early stage he began two books, one on a general theory of evolution and a second on the evolution of man and mental faculties. The latter work would be held in abeyance, pending the success of the first. P.H. Barrett and H.E. Gruber, Metaphysics, Materialism, and the Evolution of Mind: Early Writings of Charles Darwin, transcribed and annotated by Paul H. Barrett, with a commentary by Howard E. Gruber, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1974, p. xix.

72 ‘In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history’. Darwin, Charles, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, London: John Murray, 1859, p. 488.

73 Herbert, op. cit. (68), p. 226.

74 Charles Darwin, Notebook M (metaphysics on morals and speculations on expression (1838)), CUL-DAR125, p. 2.

75 ‘I have heard my Father say that he believed that persons with powerful minds generally had memories extending far back to a very early period of life’. Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 6.

76 Darwin, op. cit. (74), p. 1.

77 Darwin, op. cit. (74), p. 25.

78 Darwin, op. cit. (74), p. 156.

79 The other two were ‘Tendency to small change especially with physical change’ and ‘Great fertility in proportion to support of parents’. Charles Darwin, Notebook E (transmutation of species (10.1838–7.1839)), CUL-DAR124, p. 58.

80 Darwin, op. cit. (74), p. 123.

81 Darwin, op. cit. (79), p. 89.

82 See Holterhoff, K., ‘The history and reception of Charles Darwin's hypothesis of pangenesis’, Journal of the History of Biology (2014) 47, pp. 661695.

83 Darwin, Charles, The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, 2 vols., London: John Murray, vol. 2, p. 28.

84 Darwin, Charles, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, London: John Murray, 1872, pp. 265267.

85 Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker, 17 March 1863, DCP-LETT-4048.

86 J.D. Hooker to Charles Darwin, 24 March 1863, DCP-LETT-2027.

87 ‘I somehow blundered & mentally took literally that the child inherited from his grandfather: this view of latency collects a lot of facts – both secondary sexual character in each individual – tendency of latent character to appear temporarily in youth – effect of crossing in educing latent character &c. –  When one thinks of a latent character being handed down hidden for a thousand or ten-thousand generations & then suddenly appearing, one is quite bewildered at the host of characters written in invisible ink on the germ.’ Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker, 26 March 1863, DCP-LETT-4061.

88 Darwin, op. cit. (83), vol. 1, pp. 335, 346, 384, vol. 2, pp. 6, 17, 19, 230, 264.

89 Darwin, op. cit. (74), p. 132e, even uses the phrase ‘Descent of Man’ with capitals.

90 On Darwin's consistent interest in the problems of mind and inheritance see Richards, R.J., ‘Darwin on mind, morals, and emotion’, in Hodge, J. and Radick, G. (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Darwin, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 92115. Darwin had never abandoned his earlier psychological interests entirely. As he explained in a letter to Wallace at the end of 1857, man always remained ‘the highest & most interesting problem for the naturalist’. Darwin to Wallace, 22 December 1857, DCP-LETT-2192.

91 Rather than man, almost immediately after publishing the Origin, Darwin became captivated by the plant genus Drosera. Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 75, 79, 80.

92 Gruber, H., Darwin on Man: A Psychological Study of Scientific Creativity, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981, pp. 177179.

93 Charles Darwin, Notebook N (metaphysics and expression (1838–1839)), CUL-DAR126, p. 49. Gruber, op. cit. (92), pp. 179–180.

94 According to Robert Young, nineteenth-century theories of the mind owed much to ‘the general climate of evolutionary thinking’ for which Darwin was ‘primarily responsible’, but Darwin himself ‘was somewhat naive in his approach to psychology’, and left the heavy lifting to others. Robert M. Young, Mind, Brain and Adaptation in the Nineteenth Century, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970, p. 191.

95 Gruber, op. cit. (92), p. 219.

96 Desmond, A. and Moore, J., Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins, London: Houghton, 2009, esp. pp. 348376. Harley, op. cit. (12), p. 66.

97 The request from an anonymous ‘German Editor’, which Darwin mentions in the ‘Recollections’, came from Ernest Von Hesse-Wartegg in 1875. See E. Von Hesse-Wartegg to Charles Darwin, 20 September 1875, DCP-LETT-10162.

98 Of course, the process began earlier, in books such as Lewes's Physiology of Common Life, which was published a few months before the Origin, which included a chapter on ‘The qualities we inherit from our parents’, which itself drew explicitly on the earlier writings of Lucas, Girou and Moreau, and Lewes's own earlier article in the Westminster Review from July 1856. See Smith, R.E., ‘George Henry Lewes and his “Physiology of Common Life” 1859’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine (1960) 53, pp. 569574. Lewes, like Darwin in his notebooks, considered how vices were exhibited in ‘cases where the early death of the parents, or the removal of the children in infancy, prevents the idea of any imitation or effect of education being the cause’, and ‘the phenomenon of atavism, or ancestral influence, in which the child manifests striking resemblance to the grandfather or grandmother, and not to the father or mother’. Lewes, G.H., The Physiology of Common Life, London: John Murray, 1859, pp. 385, 405406.

99 White, op. cit. (12), p. 817; Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 79.

100 Darwin, op. cit. (74), pp. 53, 58, 96. In the back of the notebook are a series of questions under the heading ‘Natural History of Babies’.

101 Darwin, Charles, ‘A biographical sketch of an infant’, Mind (1877) 2, pp. 285294. Taine, H., ‘M. Taine on the acquisition of language by children’, Mind (1877) 2, pp. 252259. Taine and Darwin's contributions were followed by William Preyer's The Soul of the Child (1882), which arguably provided the foundational text of modern child psychology.

102 Feist, op. cit. (6), pp. 23–25.

103 Galton, F., Hereditary Genius, an Inquiry into Its Laws and Consequences, London: Macmillan and Co., 1869. Galton, , ‘On the causes which operate to create scientific men’, Fortnightly Review (1873) 13, pp. 345351.

104 Galton, F., English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture, London: MacMillan and Co., 1874, p. 1.

105 Galton, op. cit. (104), pp. 4–5, 1.

106 Galton, op. cit. (104), p. 193. See Hilts, V.L., ‘A guide to Francis Galton's English Men of Science’, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society (1975) 65, pp. 185.

107 Galton, op. cit. (104), p. 2.

108 Galton, op. cit. (104), pp. 192–193.

109 Galton, op. cit. (104), p. 146.

110 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 20. Darwin borrowed letters from Galton when composing his Life of Erasmus Darwin; in the text he noted that he felt sure his half-cousin would ‘be willing to attribute the remarkable originality of his mind in large part to inheritance from his maternal grandfather’, and the original introduction was positively Galtonian in asserting the ‘public benefit’ of adding to mankind's knowledge of inheritance. Darwin, op. cit. (17), pp. 16, 7.

111 Galton, op. cit. (104), p. 45. Galton, F., Memories of My Life, London: Methuen and Co., 1908, p. 287.

112 According to Janet Browne, Galton ‘pushed “genius” off the romantic mountaintop’ with his ‘urge to render natural phenomena into numbers that could be tabulated and compared’. Janet Browne, ‘Inspiration to perspiration: Francis Galton's hereditary genius in Victorian context’, in Chaplin and McMahon, op. cit. (5), pp. 77–95, 77–78.

113 F. Galton to Charles Darwin, undated (before 28 May) 1873, in Pearson, K., ed., The Life, Letters and Labours of Francis Galton, vol. 3, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1908, Part 2, pp. 2324. Galton, op. cit. (104), p. 148.

114 Charles Darwin to F. Galton, 28 May 1873, DCP-LETT-8924.

115 Lloyd, F., ‘A scientific view of Mr. Francis Galton's theories of heredity’, Modern “Science” (1876) 1, pp. 1164.

116 Galton, F., ‘On men of science, their nature and nurture’, Proceedings of the Meetings of Members of the Royal Institution (1874) 7, pp. 227236.

117 In Hereditary Genius (1869), Galton had used the 1861 census and the law of deviations from an average to place men in eight grades of natural ability above the average (indicated by capital letters) and eight grades below (indicated by lower-case letters), in mirror image. Thus grades A and a, either side of the average, both contained 256,741 per million, while G and g contained only 14 each. Galton had hoped that his ‘men of science’ respondents would grade their abilities according to this table for the ‘Classification of Men According To Their Natural Gifts’, but was forced to drop his plan. Galton, op. cit. (103), pp. 34–36. ‘I also omit the description of a notation I proposed to replace indefinite words such as “large”, “considerable”, because I have made no use of it in this volume’. Galton, op. cit. (104), p. 261.

118 Darwin's response to Galton's questionnaire is reproduced in Hilts, op. cit. (106), pp. 10–11.

119 Stack, D., ‘Charles Darwin's liberalism in “tural Selection As Affecting Civilised Nations”’, History of Political Thought (2012) 33, pp. 525554.

120 Galton, op. cit. (104), pp. 33, 37.

121 Peart, S.J., ‘Darwin's unpublished letter at the Bradlaugh–Besant trial: a question of divided expert judgment’, European Journal of Political Economy (2008) 24, pp. 343353.

122 Darwin, op. cit. (41), vol. 1, pp. 103–104.

123 Browne, J., ‘Making Darwin: biography and the changing representations of Charles Darwin’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History (2010) 40, pp. 347373, 359–361.

124 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 20.

125 Darwin to Galton, 3 December 1869, quoted in Forrest, D.W., Francis Galton: The Life and Work of a Victorian Genius, New York: Taplinger, 1974, p. 101.

126 Charles Darwin to Samuel Smiles, 15 December 1876, DCP-LETT-10720.

127 Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 76, 61.

128 Harley, op. cit. (12), pp. 44, 17.

129 ‘I have endeavored to keep my mind free, so as to give up any hypothesis, however much beloved (and I cannot resist forming one on every subject), as soon as facts are shown to be opposed to it’. Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 86.

130 Darwin, op. cit. (17), pp. 60, 35.

131 See Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker, 3 November 1864, DCP-LETT-4650; Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker, 10 December 1866, DCP-LETT-5300.

132 Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 64, 63.

133 Galton, op. cit. (104), p. 12.

134 Yeo, R., Defining Science: William Whewell, Natural Knowledge, and Public Debate in Early Victorian Britain, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 166, 31.

135 Higgitt, R.F., Recreating Newton: Newtonian Biography and the Making of Nineteenth-Century History of Science, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

136 On Darwin's relationship with Whewell see Ruse, M., ‘Darwin's debt to philosophy: an examination of the influence of the philosophical ideas of John F.W. Herschel and William Whewell on the development of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (1975) 6, pp. 159181. ‘Dr. Whewell was one of the older and distinguished men who sometimes visited Henslow, and on several occasions I walked home with at night’. Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 35.

137 Whewell, W., Astronomy and General Physics Considered with Reference to Natural Theology, London: William Pickering, 1833, Book III, ‘Religious views’.

138 See Snyder, L.J., Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Society, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2006, Chapter 1, ‘Whewell and the reform of inductive philosophy’, pp. 33–94.

139 Somerville, M., Personal Recollections from Early Life to Old Age, of Mary Somerville, with Selections from Her Correspondence by Her Daughter, Martha Somerville, London: John Murray, 1874, Chapter 9.

140 Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 49–54.

141 Comte, op. cit. (34), p. 6.

142 Peterson, L.H., Victorian Autobiography: The Tradition of Self-Interpretation, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986, p. 137.

143 See especially Darwin, op. cit. (13) pp. 43–44. ‘Darwin writes his youth in terms of who he is as an adult, presenting us with telling or ironic anecdotes about his burgeoning scientific tendencies’. Harley, op. cit. (12), p. 9.

144 Comte, op. cit. (34), p. 6. Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 49–54.

145 It is interesting to note that later, when he was drafting the ‘Recollections’, Darwin chose to place the ‘Religious belief’ section between a short account of his return from the Beagle voyage in October1836 and his marriage in January 1839, confirming that his encounter with Comte's ideas at the very least coincided with the most crucial period in his loss of religious belief.

146 Desmond, A. and Moore, J., Darwin, London: Penguin, 1991, pp. 260261.

147 Whewell described the three-stage theory as ‘worthless, and, indeed, absolutely puerile’. Whewell, W., ‘Comte and Positivism’, Macmillan's Magazine (1866) 13, pp. 353362, 355.

148 Charles Darwin to C. Lyell n/d (1 August 1861), DCP-LETT-3223.

149 Schweber, S.S., ‘The origin of the “Origin” revisted’, Journal of the History of Biology (1977) 10, pp. 229316, 250.

150 Huxley declared, ‘Comtism is, in spirit, anti-scientific’. Anon. [Huxley, T.H.], ‘The scientific aspects of Positivism’, Fortnightly Review (1869) 5, pp. 653670, 658.

151 Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker, 24 July 1869, DCP-LETT-6841.

152 Charles Darwin to T.H. Huxley, 10 March 1869, DCP-LETT-6649. Charles Darwin to T.H. Huxley, 12 March 1869, DCP-LETT-6658.

153 Charles Darwin to J. Fordyce, 7 May 1879, DCP-LETT-12041; Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 54.

154 See Lightman, B., ‘Huxley and scientific agnosticism: the strange history of a failed rhetorical strategy’, Journal of the History of Science (2002) 35, pp. 271289.

155 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 86.

156 Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 86–88.

157 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 55.

158 Clifford, W.K., ‘The ethics of belief’, Contemporary Review (1877) 29, pp. 289309.

159 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 86.

160 Clifford, op. cit. (158).

161 Feist, op. cit. (6), p. 224.

162 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 86.

163 ‘May not the habit in scientific pursuts of believing nothing till it is proved, influence your mind too much on other things which cannot be proved in the same way[?]’. E. Darwin to Charles Darwin, February 1839, DCP-LETT-471.

164 This reluctance to follow without proof is the leitmotif the section on ‘Religious belief’ in the ‘Recollections’, to the extent that Darwin notes how he had initially hoped to counter his own growing disbelief by ‘inventing day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii or elsewhere which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in the Gospels’, and would allow him to believe. Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 50.

165 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 55.

166 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 9.

167 Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 56.

168 See Yeo, E. Janes, ‘Will the real Mary Lovett please stand up? Chartism, gender and autobiography’, in Chase, M. and Dyck, I. (eds.), Living and Learning: Essays in Honour of J.F.C. Harrison, Aldershot: Routledge, 1996, pp. 163181.

169 See Francis, Mark, Herbert Spencer and the Invention of Modern Life, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007 p. 73; Maudsley, Henry, ‘Sex in mind and education’, Fortnightly Review (1874) 15, pp. 469471.

170 Darwin, op. cit. (41), vol. 2, pp. 327, 402.

171 Darwin, op. cit. (83), vol. 2, pp. 72, 83–84, 29.

172 Darwin, op. cit. (17), p. 16.

173 Galton, op. cit. (104), pp. 206, 197.

174 Galton, op. cit. (104), pp. 148, 206–207, 258–259, 207.

175 Galton, op. cit. (104), p. 141.

176 Darwin, op. cit. (41), vol. 2, p. 328.

177 Unlike Galton, his chief disciple, Karl Pearson, did not reject literature either, arguing that it represented human patterns of feeling and behaviour and that science was ‘utterly dependent on imagination. The great champion of statistics, then, managed very neatly to merge science and literature in a life devoted to fact and suffused by fiction’. Porter, T.M., Karl Pearson: The Scientific Life in a Statistical Age, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004, p. 311.

178 Darwin, op. cit. (13), pp. 69, 85.

179 Darwin, op. cit. (41), vol. 1, p. 35.

180 Galton, op. cit. (104), pp. 84–85.

181 ‘A man with a mind more highly organised or better constituted than mine, would not I suppose have thus suffered’. Darwin, op. cit. (13), p. 85.

182 Ellis, op. cit. (9), pp. 12–128.

I would like to thank the editor and my two anonymous referees for their comments on a previous draft of this article.

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