The last paragraph to the sixth, and final, edition of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" summarizes his views as follows:
"It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank" - quotation
"It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various
insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so
different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These
laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from
the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle
for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus,
from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production
of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally
breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed
law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."
Interestingly, this same concluding " tangled bank " paragraph did not include the phrase "by the Creator" in the first edition of November, 1859.
This phrase having been inserted, due to popular pressures for mention of divine actions, into the second edition of January, 1860 and
There are many entertaining and instructive quotations about, or attributable to, Charles Darwin:-
For instance as a boy of sixteen his father said to him:-
care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family."
Darwin was keenly interested in Natural History as a young man and his Autobiography mentions
one particular beetle hunt in
"I will give a proof of my zeal: one day on tearing off
some old bark, I saw two rare beetles and seized one in each
hand; then I saw a third and new kind, which I could not bear to
lose, so that I popped the one which I held in my right hand into
my mouth. Alas it ejected some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt
my tongue so that I was forced to spit the beetle out, which was
lost, as well as the third one".
Our own favourite Darwin quote is, however, a very significant one which is to be found in a confidential letter
of 11 January
1844 to a fellow scientist named Joseph Hooker.
In this letter Darwin, speaking about how he had spent his time after his voyaging on
HMS Beagle, wrote that:-
"I have been now ever since my return engaged in a very presumptuous work & which I know no one individual who wd not say a very
foolish one. - I was so struck with distribution of Galapagos organisms &c &c & with the character of the American fossil mammifers,
&c &c that I determined to collect blindly every sort of fact, which cd bear any way on what are species. - I have read heaps of agricultural
& horticultural books, & have never ceased collecting facts - At last gleams of light have come, & I am almost convinced (quite contrary to
opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable. Heaven forfend me from Lamarck nonsense of a
"tendency to progression" "adaptations from the slow willing of animals" &c, - but the conclusions I am led to are not widely different
from his - though the means of change are wholly so - I think I have found out (here's presumption!) the simple way by which species
become exquisitely adapted to various ends. - You will now groan, & think to yourself 'on what a man have I been wasting my
time in writing to.' - I shd, five years ago, have thought so. - "
The Faith versus Reason Debate
The Wisdoms and Insights available on our
site include some about Human Existence itself:-
If Charles Darwin were alive today we at Age-of-the-Sage would be urgently seeking to interest him
in our discovery of the fact that there is close agreement between several major World Faiths, Plato,
Socrates, Pythagoras and Shakespeare in suggesting that Human Wisdom / Spirituality is relative to
Human Desire / Materialism and to Human Wrath / Ethnicity.